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The Conjunction of the Lord with Men

By Philip N. Odhner (1941)
Bryn Athyn, PA: The Lord's New Church which is Nova Hieorosolyma.

The purpose of religion is the conjunction of God with man, and of man with God. This is the final cause of creation, the first and last end of God in His workings with men. The Church exists from that conjunction, nay, it is that conjunction, insomuch that there can be no Church where men are not reciprocally conjoined with the Lord. Everything of its Doctrine and Life rests upon the joining of the Divine with man, and of man with the Divine.

In the General Church a serious cleavage has arisen as to the understanding of the basis of this conjunction. So great is this cleavage that it is thought by many that the two understandings cannot be taught in the same Church. So important is the subject, so all embracing, that a difference of understanding with regard to it must lead to a like distinction of understanding as to all the doctrines of the Church, as to the aims of religious life, and thus as to the rightful functions of the Church. Whatever one believes about the nature of the conjunction of the Lord with man must reside in the very heart and core of his faith, and must come forth in his teaching as the end to which it is leading.

It is evident that an error in the doctrine of the Church on this subject would have devastating effect upon its faith, and, if the error were to be confirmed, upon the life of the Church also. It is therefore a primary duty of the men of the Church to investigate any divergence of view concerning it, that the Doctrine and Life of the Church may be kept pure, and that the Church may advance to a more interior state. Many men have already made this investigation, and have presented their conclusions concerning it for the consideration of the Church. This paper, which contains the results of my own investigations, may not indeed add anything substantially new to what has already been said. It is my hope that by setting forth the subject in a different way, by reopening the discussion of it, and by a common looking to the Lord and His Word, the Church may come into a mutual understanding of the conjunction of the Lord with men.

First we shall present what we consider to be the central teaching of the Word on the subject, and then the two divergent understandings of this teaching. Following this we shall present various teachings confirming or opposing the two views, and finally the conclusions which in our opinion must follow from these teachings.

The basis of the conjunction of God, who is infinite, and men and angels, who are finite, is described in "The Divine Providence."

"There is an appearance that no conjunction is possible between the Infinite and the finite, because there is no possible ratio between them, and because the finite cannot contain what is infinite: nevertheless such a conjunction is possible, both because the Infinite created all things from Himself (as shown in the work on the "Divine Love and Wisdom" n. 2824), and because the Infinite in things finite can look only to what is infinite from itself, and with finite beings this infinite from itself can appear to be in them: whereby a ratio between the finite and the Infinite is provided, not from the finite, but from the infinite in the finite; and by this also the finite becomes capable of containing what is infinite, not the finite being in itself, but as if in itself, from what is infinite from itself in him." (Divine Providence. 54.)

One understanding of this teaching is that the infinite itself, which is the Divine, proceeding from the Lord, can be in man to all appearance as if it were his own. In this view all genuine good and truth with man are of this Divine proceeding which can appear to be in man as if his own. Man can will that good, and understand that truth, and thus can live and move and have his being among these Divine things as if they were his very own. Although they are infinite and eternal, and proper to the Lord alone, yet in the mercy of the Lord they are as if they were proper to men. The basis of the conjunction thus understood is that the Divine things of the Lord can appear to be in man, and that man can act in and from them consciously, even as he can act in and from the things proper to himself, consciously. The basis depends upon the ability of the Divine Love and Wisdom to appear as if they were man's. To put the matter in the terms of the Holy Supper, which is the supreme representation of this conjunction, the Body and Blood of the Lord, which are the proceeding Divine Good and Truth, in actuality are taken into man to be as if they were his own body and blood, that is, as if they were his own good and truth.

The other understanding of this teaching is that it appears to man as if he had what is infinite from itself in him, but that in reality that which appears in him to be infinite and thus Divine is not infinite nor Divine.

It is thus the mistaken appearance in man's thought which constitutes the basis for the conjunction of God with man. In this view, which now seems to be the accepted position of the General Church, the genuine good and truth in and with man are created, finite forms and substances. They are not God in and with man, they are not the Divine proceeding, not the "Infinitum a se." The infinite from itself, according to this view, is never in man so as to appear to be his own. It remains entirely outside of man's consciousness in its operation. Man does not live and move and have his being in God, but in things that are produced by God in him, created and finite things, which are called human to distinguish them from the Divine. The teaching that "the infinite from itself can appear among finites as if it were in them" and that "the finite thus becomes capable of containing what is infinite as if in itself" is interpreted to mean that man thinks that the good and truth with him are infinite and eternal, but that they are not. The conjunction is thus based upon a human error.

To reduce this idea to the representative terms of the Holy Supper, the Body and Blood of the Lord, when eaten, that is, spiritually received and appropriated by man, are no longer His Body and blood, thus are no longer He, but they become human body and blood, finite and created, between which and the infinite there is no possible ratio, except that man mistakenly supposes them to be infinite and eternal, thus Divine.

That this second view is the now accepted position of the General Church may not at first be evident. The basis of conjunction taught in number 54 of "Divine Providence" has not been specifically treated in any public presentation by the ministers of the General Church. This, however, is the interpretation that has been presented to me in correspondence and in personal conversation, by several of the leaders of the Church. It is also the logical sequence of the teachings that have been published in the New Church Life concerning human good and truth and concerning man's unconsciousness of the Divine that is in him. It has been stated, and there has been no refutation of the statement in the General Church, that good and truth with man are finite and created, that these finite goods and truths are what appear as if they were man's own, and that between these finite goods and truths and the infinite Good and Truth which is the Lord there is no ratio. Also it has been stated that "the goods and truths which take conscious form in the minds of men and angels, being finite, cannot be regarded as a Divine Proceeding." (See New Church Life, June Supplement, 1937:246,252.)

Some have indeed noted the teaching that Divine things can be adjoined to man so as to appear to be his, (New Church Life, May 1933:243), but they have not made any attempt to say what these Divine things are. Instead they have dwelt on the fact that these Divine things are only adjoined to man, and have left the matter there. Then, having come to the conclusion that all the good and truth which man consciously has received are finite they reach the further conclusion that that which is conjoined with man is not God, but some finite production from God. But we mention this here only to show that the second view mentioned IS the position of the General Church, as far as this has been expressed. The statement that the basis of conjunction described in "The Divine Providence" 54, is human error has not appeared in print, but has been expressed to me privately from two different sources.

Let us note that the ratio between the infinite and the finite rests on the fact that the infinite can appear to be in the finite, and that thus the finite becomes capable of containing what is infinite as if in itself, from the infinite from itself in it. The appearance is not that something seems to be infinite which is not infinite, but that that which IS infinite can appear as if man's own. This is also expressly stated in number 219 of "The Divine Providence."

"Eternal things are all things which are proper to the Lord, and from Him are as it were proper to man. The propria of the Lord are all infinite and eternal, thus without time, consequently without limit and without end. Those things which are thence as it were propria to man are similarly infinite and eternal; but none of them is of man, but they are of the Lord alone with him."

Here it is said that the things which are as it were proper to man, the things which can appear to man as his own, are infinite and eternal things. The same is taught in the Arcana Celestia:

"And because with man there is a nexus with the Divine, and his inmost is such that it can receive the Divine, and not only receive it but also appropriate it to himself through acknowledgment and affection, thus through reciprocation, therefore man, because he has so been implanted in the Divine can never die; for he is in the eternal and the infinite, not only by influx thence, but also through reception." (Arcana Celestia 5114.)

And in "The Divine Providence" the same is taught:

"But inasmuch as the finite has in itself nothing of the Divine, there is in man or angel no such thing as his, not even the least; for man and angel is finite, and only a receptacle in itself dead; what is living of it is from the Divine proceeding conjoined to it through contiguity, which appears to it as if its own." (Divine Providence 57.)

Also in the Apocalypse Explained, "The Lord's Divine Love is such that it wills that what is its own shall be man's, and as these things cannot be man's because they are Divine, it makes them to be as if they were man's. In this way reciprocal conjunction is effected, that is that man is in the Lord, and the Lord in man, according to the words of the Lord Himself in John (14:20); for this would not be possible if there were not in the conjunction something belonging as it were to man. What a man does as if from self this he does as if from his own will, from his own affection, from his own liberty, thence from his own life; unless these were present on man's part, as if they were his, there could be no receptivity because nothing reactive, thus no covenant and no conjunction." (Apocalypse Explained, 971:5.)

Now the question arises as to what these infinite and eternal things are which can appear to be in man as if his own. First note that whatever they are they must be such as man can be conscious of. Nothing can appear to man as if his unless he is conscious of it. It would make no sense to say that something of which you are unconscious can appear to be yours. But this is plainly stated in the Writings:

"What comes from the Lord to man must be received and it cannot be received by man unless he is conscious of it, that is, as if from himself." (Apocalypse Explained 971.)

Note that the infinite and eternal things which can appear to be man's must be received by him, and that they must remain essentially the same after the reception as they were before, that is, infinite and eternal. For it is said in the quotation made above (Apocalypse Explained 971:5), that the Divine wills to make His Divine things man's, and that because He cannot make them man's own He makes them to be as if they were man's own. Reception of the Divine is nothing else than the exercise of these Divine things by man as if they were his own, in the acknowledgment that they are God's. There is no reception apart from the appearance that what is adjoined by God belongs to that to which it is adjoined. And if the Divine were to be finited in this adjunction, then it could not be adjoined and the Lord's will that His things should be as if man's could never be fulfilled.

That the Divine things received by man remain Divine after reception is also clear from the teaching in Divine Providence 54, for it is there said that the infinite and eternal in itself can look only to that which is infinite and eternal from itself in man and angel. If we were to suppose that the infinite and eternal things of the Lord somehow became finite by reception then there would be no longer a nexus, no longer a basis of conjunction, for there would then be nothing to which the Lord could look and to which He could be conjoined with man.

What are the Divine, infinite and eternal things that appear to be in man as if his own? The things which proceed from the Lord to men are His Divine Good and Divine Truth. These things appear to be man's in two ways: as to the faculties of receiving, and as to the exercise of those faculties in reception, or as to the things received. The faculties which give man power to receive are rationality and liberty. The things received in the exercise of those faculties are love and wisdom, or good and truth. When the faculties are so exercised that the good and truth make one in man, then that good and truth are the Lord Himself in man, and conjunction is effected.

That the Divine is present with man in the faculties of liberty and rationality, that these faculties are Divine, and yet appear to be man's, is taught in the following:

"Since then these faculties are in man from the Lord, and are not appropriated to man as his, for what is Divine cannot be appropriated to man as his, but can be adjoined to him and thereby appear as if his, and since this Divine with man is in the least particulars of his life, it follows that the Lord governs every least particular in an evil man as well as in a good man." (Divine Providence, 285.)

"In these two faculties the Lord is with every man good and evil alike; they are the Lord's abode in the human race. (Divine Love and Wisdom, 240.)

"Neither of these, freedom or rationality, is his, but is of the Lord with him. But since the two are intimately conjoined to his life, so intimately that they may be said to be injoined to life, therefore they appear to be as if his propria." (Divine Love and Wisdom. 116.)

"For the Lord has His residence in man, both in the evil and in the good, in these two faculties; and it is by means of them that He conjoins Himself with every man... That the Lord has His residence in every man in these faculties is from the inflow of His will, in that He wills to be received by man, and to have an abode in him, and to give him the happy things of eternal life. All this belongs to the Lord's will, for it belongs to His Divine Love. It is the Lord's will that causes the appearance in man that what he thinks, speaks and wills and does is his own." (Divine Providence. 96.)

"The Lord can dwell in angels only in what is His, that is, in His proprium" (Divine Love and Wisdom, 114.)

These numbers teach that liberty and rationality are the Divine from the Divine as it were implanted in man (Divine Providence, 98) and so injoined to life as to appear from the Divine will as man's own. And the purpose in their thus being adjoined to man is so that he may receive the Divine Love and Wisdom as of himself.

Now let us proceed to the demonstration of the second way in which the Divine appears to be man's, namely, in the love and wisdom which are received through these faculties. The teaching is that good and truth, when conjoined by man as if of himself, are, after their reception, Divine, and are the Lord Himself with men angels.

"The Divine Providence has as its end a heaven consisting of men who have become angels, and who are becoming angels, upon whom the Lord is able to bestow all the blessings and felicities that belong to love and wisdom, and to communicate these from Himself in them. Nor can He do this in any other way; for there is in them from creation an image and likeness of Himself; the image in them is wisdom, and the likeness in them is love; and the Lord in them is love united to wisdom and wisdom united to love; or what is the same, is good united to truth, and truth united to good." (Divine Providence, 27.)

The love and wisdom in which angels are and which make heaven, are not from the angels, but from the Lord, and in fact are the Lord in them. And since love and wisdom are the Lord in heaven, and love and wisdom make the life of angels, it is also clear that their life is of the Lord, yea is the Lord." (Divine Providence, 28.)

"The Divine of the Lord in heaven is love to Him and charity toward the neighbor." (Heaven and Hell, 13.)

"To do good for the sake of good, this they call good from the Divine, and that this good it is which makes heaven, because this good is the Lord." (Heaven and Hell, 9.)

"Every good which in itself is good and is called the good of charity, and which in its essence is spiritual good, cannot flow from man, but from the Lord alone; for in order that it may be the good of charity or spiritual good, the Lord must be in the good, yea He must be the good; for it proceeds from Him, and what proceeds from someone, this draws its essence from Him, for it is He Himself in His Own. Wherefore if the Lord were not the good which a man does to the neighbor, or what is the same, unless the good which a man does to the neighbor were from the Lord, it would not have the essence of good in itself, but the essence of evil; for man would be in it, and man in himself and his own proprium is nothing but evil; this evil must first be removed in order that the good which proceeds from man may not be of man, but of the Lord; for man is nothing but a recipient of life; he is not life in itself, for if he were life in itself he would be God; wherefore man is not unless a recipient of good, for good is of life, because love and wisdom are life, and good is of love, and truth is of wisdom; this life cannot be adjudged (addicere) to man as his, for man is finite and created, and the Lord cannot finite and create Himself in another; thus He Himself would be no more, and thus the universal human race would be God, and each one by himself, to think which is not only irrational, but abominable. Such an idea concerning God and man in the spiritual world stinks as a cadaver. From these things it is evident that not any good which in itself is good and is called the good of charity can be from man, but from the Lord, who alone is Good itself, thus in Himself good. This the Lord indeed produces out of Himself, but through man. There is no other subject than man through which the Lord out of Himself produces good. But still the Lord gives to man the faculty of sensing this with himself, yea as if from himself, thence as if his own, for the reason that he may do it." (Doctrine of Charity, 201.

"Every good of love and every truth of faith which is with man are not of man but of the Lord with him: for it is the Divine proceeding, which is the Lord in heaven with the angels and in the church with men." (Apocalypse Explained. 460:2.)

"With such the Lord is present in the goods of love and the truths of faith that are in them from Him. For these are the Lord in heaven and in the Church: since the things that proceed from Him are not only His but are Himself." (Apocalypse Explained. 25.)

"The Divine Truth which is from Him, and is received by the angels, makes heaven." (Arcana Celestia, 9503.)

Note that it is the good united to truth in man, the love and wisdom which make his life, thus his regenerate life, that is the Lord. Good done for the sake of good is the Lord: love to the Lord and love to the neighbor in the angels is the Divine of the Lord: the good man does to his neighbor and which the Lord produces through him, is the Lord. These goods and truths are those that have been received by man. Good and truth cannot be united in man except by their reception. Good cannot be done for the sake of good except in the receiving of it. Love to the Lord cannot even be thought of except as the Lord's love reciprocated by man. The Lord cannot produce any good through man, which is good itself to him unless the man has received it as if it were his own, and done it as if of himself.

These teachings make it clear that the Divine things of the Lord can appear to be man's both with reference to the faculties of reception, and as to the good and truth received, after reception. This truth can specially be seen in regarding the subject of the Church. The Church is the Bride and Wife of the Lord, the only, the special object of His Love. The Divine things proper to the Lord, when received as of themselves by men, make and constitute the Church in man, as is taught in the following:

"Men themselves, regarded in themselves, do not constitute the Church, but the Lord with them; so neither do the angels regarded in themselves constitute heaven, but the Lord with them; for the Lord does not dwell in any proprium of man or angel, but in His own with them; thence it is that when it is said Church and heaven, the Divine of the Lord is meant with those who are there." (Arcana Celestia, 10125.) 10

"The men there as to their proprium do not make the Church, but as to the Divine which they receive from the Lord." (Arcana Celestia, 10153.)

Here it is said that the Divine things received by men both make and constitute the Church, and that when the Church is mentioned it means the Divine of the Lord with those who are there. Thus the Church in that sense is Divine.

But the Church cannot be predicated apart from reception. It is not the Divine in itself, but the Divine received and as if it were appropriated by men, that is the Church. The Church is the wife of the Lord. A wife is formed by the transcription of her husband's wisdom into herself, and by her love of it. So also the Church is the Wife when the Lord's Wisdom is as if it were transcribed into men, being received by them as if of themselves. We are told that man's wisdom was transcribed into woman in order that his love for wisdom might not be a love of self, but the love of his wife. In this teaching perhaps we can see some image of the truth that the Divine Love and Wisdom must needs be and exist in others created from itself. The Lord cannot love His own Wisdom in Himself. This is opposed to the very nature of the Divine Love. But the Lord can love His wisdom received as if by themselves in men, and into this He can inflow with love.

From this teaching we can see that the Church as to all its good and truth, as to all its charity and faith, as to all its Doctrine and Life, insofar as they are genuine, is the Divine of the Lord as if it were appropriated by men. In these things the men of the Church live as if in their own things. From them they will and speak and act as if of themselves. This is the true nature of the conjunction of men with the Lord.

But let it be noted that all these things of the Church are not in man as his. They are adjoined to him so as to appear to be as if his, and this appearance is not a human error, but the continual miracle and effect of the Divine Love. The faculties of reception appear as if man's, and the things received appear as if man's, and the operation of the conjunction of these two things appears as if man's. Thus the whole of regenerate and angelic life in the Church and in Heaven, is the living of man outside of himself, in the Divine things of the Lord, and the living of the Lord in His Divine things as it were outside of Himself in man.

The teaching of the Writings thus confirm the first understanding of the conjunction of the Lord with man, mentioned in the beginning of this paper. Now let us examine the second view, the present position of the General Church. According to this understanding of the subject, all good and truth in man are finite, all the love and wisdom in him are finite, because man is a finite vessel. Everything of the reciprocation of God in man is finite. (New Church Life, 1935:101.) Everything of God in man after reception is finite. (New Church Life, June: 1937.) The Divine proceeding as soon as it enters the human mind by reception ceases at once to be a proceeding, and becomes a creation, or production, a finite and created thing. Thus the Word, when it is received is said to be no longer the Word, in this view, but becomes a human concept. (New Church Life, June Supplement, 1937:257.) Man can indeed see the Divine as the written Word, but when it enters man's understanding it is no longer the Word. And yet this is the only way in which man can be aware of the Divine proceeding, — as the written Word. Of every other aspect of that proceeding man is utterly unconscious. It overrules man secretly, leading him to some goal known only to the Lord. Man sets goals for himself, but they are not and cannot be the eternal goal which the Lord sees for him. Man thus progresses from one mistaken appearance to another, the Lord overruling all his errors and bending them to some Divine end of His own, which is above the ken of men and angels. (New Church Life, June Supplement, 1937:258-9.)

With such an understanding of the conjunction of the Lord with men the teaching in the Divine Providence, nos. 54 and 219, that the Infinite from itself can appear to be in man as his own, and that the things as it were proper to man are similarly infinite and eternal, cannot be otherwise interpreted than to mean that man thinks he has ends of love, and understanding of truth which are infinite and eternal, but that in reality they are all temporal and finite. Thus the ratio between God and man is not that from His will His Divine things appear to be as if they were man's, but that man mistakenly supposes from the appearance that his own things are Divine when they are not.

But let us examine the teachings from the sense of the Letter of the Word on which this understanding bases itself.

The universal principle on which this view rests itself is the teaching that "finite cannot proceed from what is infinite." (Divine Providence, 219.) Further teachings are then brought forward which are used to demonstrate that all good and truth with man after reception are finite, and that therefore those goods and truths cannot be the Divine proceeding of the Lord, and that there is nothing Divine about them.

With the principle that the finite cannot proceed from the infinite there can be no disagreement. But we do not agree that the Divine proceeding cannot be received by man and yet remain the Divine proceeding. We therefore cannot agree that the finite good and truth spoken of in the Writings is the good and truth which in reception appears to be man's. Those goods and truths received from the Lord are not finite, and thus not created and dead things.

The following teachings have been interpreted to mean that the good and truth received by men from the Lord are created and finite, and therefore in themselves dead and inanimate, merely human and not Divine:

"These two (the Divine Good and Truth) are Divine in themselves, and out of these the universe was created; consequently all things in the universe are referrable to good and to truth, and good everywhere is the esse of a thing, and truth is the existere therefrom; but these two in all things in the universe are finite." (Apocalypse Explained, 286.)

"Of things created and finite esse and existere can be said, likewise substance and form, as also life, yea love and wisdom, but all those are created and finite. The cause that they can be said, is not that there is anything Divine to them, but that they are in the Divine and that the Divine is in them. For everything created is in itself inanimate and dead, but it is animated and vivified by this, that the Divine is in them, and they in the Divine." (Divine Love and Wisdom. 53.)

"But nevertheless the wisdom and intelligence of angels is finite, and relatively to the Divine Wisdom of the Lord most finite, and scarcely anything; as may be evident from this that between the Infinite and the finite no ratio is given." (Arcana Celestia, 2592.)

"Although the love and wisdom of angels is ineffable and incomprehensible to man, they are both finite, and they are not receptive of the infinite except by correspondences." (Divine Wisdom. XII:2.)

These are the teachings which are thought to confirm the view that the good and truth received by men in their regeneration are finite and therefore merely human and not Divine. All things which appear to man to be his own, in his will and understanding and operation, are here supposed to be taught as being finite and created. If this is the correct understanding of the teachings, then the basis of conjunction with God taught in the Writings is nullified. From all that has been brought forward about that basis of conjunction, that conjunction rests solely upon the fact that the infinite and eternal things which are proper to the Lord can appear as if they were in man as his own, it should be evident that this cannot be the correct understanding. But if this is not the correct understanding of these teachings, how can they be understood so as to agree with and supplement the teaching that the infinite and the eternal received by men remain infinite and eternal? What is meant in the Writings by these teachings of finite goods and truths, and by the finite wisdom of the angels?

In the True Christian Religion we are given the teaching that the infinite, love, wisdom, light, heat, activity, are not creatable. (True Christian Religion. 472.) And again in number 40 of the same work:

Life in itself is the very and only life, from which angels and men live. Human reason can see this from the light which proceeds from the sun of the natural world, that this is not creatable, but that forms receiving it have been created. For the eyes are its recipient forms, and light inflowing from the sun makes that they see. It is similar with life, which as has been said is light proceeding from the sun of the spiritual world, that this is not creatable, but that it inflows continually, and as it were illumines, also vivifies the understanding of man; consequently that because light, life and wisdom are one, wisdom is not creatable; similarly neither faith, nor truth nor love, nor charity, nor good; but that forms receiving them have been created. These forms are human and angelic minds."

One might suppose that this teaching would do away with all thought of created goods and truth, and created love and wisdom, but the argument advanced by the proponents of the present position of the General Church is that these finite forms which receive the influx of the Divine Good and Truth, being finite, cannot do otherwise than finite the activity they receive, according to the teaching that the influx must be according to the form of the receiving vessel. This is why they reason that the Divine Life by reception becomes finite. (New Church Life, June Supplement.1937:246.) The activities produced by the Divine life in the vessel said to be just as finite as the vessels themselves. To apply the "reductio ad absurdum" to this reasoning we must say that since the vessels are finite and thus in themselves dead and inanimate, the activities produced in them, being just as finite, are just as dead and inanimate. All thought, affection, life, love, wisdom, in man are thus dead and inanimate. The Divine Love and Wisdom, when it enters the receptacle automatically dies. Instead of Life making the receptacle live as if from itself, the receptacle makes the Life dead.

No one could take this latter conclusion seriously. But it can and must be taken seriously that to call love and wisdom or good and truth finite after reception, and to leave the matter there, destroys all ratio between man and God, since there is then nothing as if his own in man to which the Lord can look. Does this not separate man and everything of and with him from the Lord? How then are we to understand the teachings concerning finite goods and truths, and the finite wisdom of the angels?

We have seen that the recipient forms of the Divine Good and Truth are created and finite. These recipient forms are created from spiritual substances which are finite. (True Christian Religion, 471.) These form the spirit of man, which is nothing but a receptacle of life, the mind. When these recipient vessels are filled with the Divine Good and Truth there is such a correspondence between them that those substances themselves may be called goods and truths, even though they are finite. But these so called finite goods and truths are the receptacle, and they are not that which is received. They are the finite things to which the Lord adjoins His Divine Good and Truth, so that that Divine Good and Truth appears to be theirs. The will and understanding are such substances, formed for the reception of the Divine Love and Wisdom. They are spiritual substantial organs, so formed that the inflowing Divine can appear to be in them as if their own. Yet they are finite. And it is only by virtue of the fact that they receive Divine Good and Truth through adjunction that good and truth may be predicated of them insomuch that they may be said to be finite goods and truths, although they are not.

In the Apocalypse Explained 286 it is said that all things in the universe refer themselves to good and to truth because they have been created from the Divine Good and Truth. When it is said that they have reference to good and truth it is not to be understood that they are good and truth, as these are not creatable, but it is to be understood that they correspond to good and truth, and that by virtue of this correspondence they may be called good and truth. Let us note also that the finite good and truth spoken of in this number apply to all things in the universe, as well to sticks and stones as to men. This fact in itself is sufficient to show that it has no specific reference to the good and truth that are adjoined to man by the Lord, and which are received by man in that they appear to be his, and in that he acts in and from them as if of himself. Men also, considered merely as finite receptacles are good and truth of the kind mentioned in this number, because they too as receptacles have been created by the Divine Good and Truth, and have reference to them. But let it not be forgotten that these finite things are only so called goods and truths, and in themselves are not such. With men and angels they come into correspondence with good and truth through adjunction, and this good and truth which are thus adjoined to them are what appear to be man's but which in reality are the Lord's alone.

Number fifty-three of "The Divine Love and Wisdom" even more clearly teaches this understanding of "finite" goods and truths. It is there said that love and wisdom, substance and form, esse and existere can be said of created and finite things, "not because they possess anything Divine, but because they are in the Divine, and the Divine in them." Here the evident meaning is that love and wisdom are Divine, and that the created and finite things are not love and wisdom, but that they may be called such because of the fact that they are in love and wisdom, and love and wisdom in them. With men and angels it is this Divine, which is in them, which appears to be theirs. In other finite and created things there is not this reciprocation of the Divine Life, although there is still a kind of correspondence with the Divine, and for this reason there is a predication of the Divine even to the things of nature. In this number it is not taught that there are created and finite goods and truths, as these are uncreatable. It is merely said that finite things may be called good and truth because of the good and truth in them, and in the case of angels and men, in which they are.

There are other numbers in the Writings which teach that each man is his own good and truth. Actually the man is only this or that kind of organ, this or that kind of recipient form. By virtue of the correspondence between that form and the good and truth which it receives it can be called good and truth. The things which make man a man are good and truth, but he himself is only an organ or form receptive of them. The finite things which constitute the organ are the man, but the good and truth which inflow into that organ and which have been received by it are not the man. They can be said to be the man's because they appear to be his, but they are not his, and should never be thought of as his. The finite things which constitute the receiving vessel are the man, and these finite things can be called goods and truth because of their correspondence with what they receive, but in themselves they are not goods and truths, being inanimate and dead. This, I believe, is the only sense in which anyone can properly speak of finite or merely human good and truth.

In this connection it is of interest to reflect on what is the person of the man or angel. The word "person" (persona) may have a dual meaning. It may mean that which "sounds through" or "that through which something sounds." A regenerate man or an angel is a person in the sense that the Divine good and truth sounds through him. But he is only as if it were a person in the sense of being something which sounds through. In this latter sense the Lord alone is a person. And on the other hand in the former sense the Lord is impersonal. Everything with Him being infinite He is not that through which something else sounds.

To say that a man is a person only in the sense of being a finite organ through which the Divine, or the perversion of the Divine, flows, seems to be unsatisfactory, in that it leaves little or nothing for a man to be. Yet this is the teaching of the Writings:

"Man has no proprium, unless you wish to call this his proprium, that he is such and such a subject, or such and such an organ, or such and such a form; but this is not the proprium which is meant, for it is only quality; but no man has proprium as proprium is commonly understood." (Divine Providence. 309.)

From this teaching we can see that the man is not the life received, but the receptive organ, and that it would be quite out of order to suppose that the good and truth received by man are distinct from the Divine good and truth, and that they are the man himself. They may appear to be his own, and even himself, but they are not. The only thing we can call the man is the finite vessel, and we can speak of this as being composed of finite goods and truths because the Divine good and truth are in them and they are in the Divine, but in so speaking let us realize that we are speaking according to the appearance, and not according to the actuality of the case.

We have quoted two numbers which speak of the wisdom of the angels as finite, yea most finite. (Arcana Celestia, 2572. Divine Wisdom, XII: 22.) Wisdom is the ability to distinguish clearly what is good and true, and thence what is evil and false, from interior perception.   (Heaven and Hell, 351.) It is hard to conceive of this ability as being finite in the sense of being inanimate and dead. Yet the wisdom of the angels is finite. In what sense then is it finite? We believe that a consideration of this subject brings out an important aspect of the nature of the Divine in men and angels.

There is a number in the Arcana Celestia which says that the things in which the angels are wise are as a drop to the ocean compared to the things in which they are not wise. In other words they may be wise in one thing and not in another. To say that you see clearly what is true and good and thence what is evil and false in some things does not imply that one has this ability in all things. The angels see the Divine, the good and true, in some things, but not in others, and the beginning of wisdom with them is to acknowledge that the things in which they are wise are as nothing compared to the things in which they are not wise. The infinite and eternal things of the Lord appear in them as if their own, but with reference to only a limited number of finite things.

In this perhaps we can see the difference between the infinite in itself, and the infinite from itself in finite things. The infinite in itself in the Divine Human of the Lord, is infinite with reference to all things that are and that ever can be. But the infinite from itself is the infinite adjoined to finite things, and there is a very limited number of such things in each man or angel. There is therefore a dual aspect of the infinite from itself. It is indeed infinite, and yet because it is adjoined to finite things, and because it cannot be spoken of as the infinite from itself except when it is so adjoined, there is a sense in which its presence can be measured, and a quantity and quality assigned to it with each individual. Wisdom is Divine, and belongs to the Lord alone. It is infinite and eternal, proper to the Lord alone, and from Him as it were proper to man. But since with man it can only be adjoined to certain finite things, in order that it may appear to be the man's, it may be spoken of as limited, yea most finite. But the finition does not apply to the wisdom but to the limited number of things in which the wisdom is with man, the finite things to which it is adjoined in him.

In the Arcana Celestia, 2572 we are told that the wisdom of the angels is finite, and that there is no ratio between the infinite and the finite. In the Divine Providence 54 we are told that a ratio does exist between them by this, that the infinite from itself can appear to be in the finite, and appear there as if it belonged to the finite. These teachings may appear to be irreconcilable, but from what has been said we can see that they are not so. The infinite love and wisdom which are God can be in man as if his own, and by virtue of this there is ratio and conjunction between God and man. But in order to appear as if man's it must be adjoined to him, a finite receptacle. It does not lose its Divinity by this adjunction, but it is exercised with reference only to a limited number of finite things. Thus with regard to wisdom, it is indeed the Divine with men and angels, it is the Divine appearing as if it were their own. But because this Divine can appear to be theirs only in some things, and these things compared to those in which wisdom is not as if theirs are as a drop to the ocean, therefore in another sense their wisdom is limited and finite, yea most finite. Considered in its faculty, and in its exercise in those things in which an angel is wise, wisdom is Divine, and in this there is conjunction and ratio with the infinite God; but in the latter aspect, when considered from the finite things in which a man is wise compared with the things in which he is not wise, wisdom is finite, and between it and the Divine Wisdom of the Lord, there is no ratio and no conjunction, and never can be.

The same applies also to the loves of angels and men. The ruling love of an angel is the Lord's own love appearing to be as if his. In itself that love is therefore infinite and eternal and proper to the Lord alone, and from Him is only as it were proper to the angel. But it is the infinite adjoined to the finite receptacle. It therefore has its limited aspect as well as its Divine aspect.

To support the doctrine that good and truth after reception are finite, the argument has been used that when the Divine Truth of the Word enters the mind of a man it is reordered and rearranged according to the ruling love of the man; that this ruling love is finite; and that since the Word can only be seen from that love as a centre, it can only be seen finitely and ceases at once to be the Word, becoming a human concept. ('New Church Life, June Supplement. 1937:257.) This is a strange conclusion, and in itself is sufficient to give one pause when considering the doctrine of finite goods and truths as now held in the General Church. For the Word teaches us that the Word is not the Word with man until it is understood, (S.S. 77), whereas according to this view we now arrive at the conclusion that the Word is no longer the Word after it has been understood.

The teaching which appears to be in error here is that the ruling love is merely finite, that that love, even if genuine, even if celestial, is not the Lord's own love, but some finite production having another centre than the Lord. But of this we are told:

"That is universally regnant with man which is in each and all things of his thought and in each and all things of his will, consequently which constitutes his very mind and life. Such a regnant must the Lord be with man, for such a regnant is the Lord with the angels of heaven, of whom therefore it is said that they are in the Lord. The Lord becomes regnant when it is not only believed that all good and truth are from Him, but also when it is loved to be so. The angels are not only in the faith but also in the perception that it is so. Hence it is that their life is the Lord's life in them, the life of their will is the life of love from the Lord, and the life of their understanding is the life of faith from the Lord. From all this it is evident how it is that the Lord is the all in all of heaven, and that He Himself is heaven. When the Lord universally reigns with a man of the Church as with angels of heaven, then the Lord is in all the truths and goods of faith with him, as the heart is in all the blood vessels, because these derive from it their origin, and the blood which is their life." (Arcana Celestia, 8865.)

From this it is evident that with one who is being regenerated the Lord is the universal regnant, and that He alone disposes the truths in such a man, as in the angels, from Himself as a centre, and not from something else which is not Himself, as a centre. This subject is further clarified by the following teaching:

"The Divine with those who have faith in the Lord is love and charity. By love is meant love to the Lord, by charity, love towards the neighbor. Love to the Lord cannot possibly be separated from love towards the neighbor; for the Lord's love is toward the universal human race, which He wills to save eternally, and to adjoin to Himself wholly, so that not one of them may perish. He therefore who has love to the Lord has the Lord's love and thereby cannot do otherwise than love his neighbor." (Arcana Celestia, 2023.)

The ruling love of angels and of angel-men must therefore be the Lord's love with them, adjoined to their receptacle, and thus appearing to be theirs. What angel is not in the love of the salvation of the human race?

What could there be with an angel that was not altogether dominated by the consideration of that salvation?

In this connection let us consider for a moment the nature of the genuine Doctrine of the Church. Doctrine is to be drawn from the Word, and it is only by the love of the salvation of the human race that true Doctrine can be drawn, ordered and expressed. If doctrine is drawn from any other love it is spurious and false, and most certainly is nothing but a human concept, having another centre than the Lord. But when drawn and ordered by this love, the truth is ordered and arranged by the Lord alone, and the Doctrine so drawn is Divine. It does not detract from the Divinity of the Doctrine that the love and wisdom by which it has been drawn from the Word have been adjoined to finite things. That Doctrine is essentially the Divine from the Divine, as also are the faculties in which it is conceived in man. Yet that Doctrine has its finite aspect from being adjoined to finite things, and when viewed from those finite things it is as nothing relatively to the infinite Divine Doctrine such as it is in itself in the Word. It is the Divine truth as seen in relation to various states of man's life. It is not the Divine truth as in relation to all things. Although Divine it is therefore relatively finite, being limited as to the finite things to which it is adjoined with a man. This is the character of the genuine Doctrine of the Church. And this also is the character of all those infinite and eternal things which are proper to the Lord, and which thence are as if they were proper to man.

The General Church has come to the view that the good and truth received by man and angel are finite and merely human from the avowed purpose of keeping a distinction between the Divine and man, so that these two might never be confused. Many have felt that this essential distinction has been lost in the first view presented in this paper, and that man has been made Divine thereby. Because the Writings teach that every man is his own good and truth they have concluded that to assume that all genuine good and truth with man are Divine is the same thing as to make him a god. From the endeavor to avoid this supposed form of pantheism, the Church has arrived at the position now held.

From the teachings presented from the Writings it can be clearly seen that there is nothing resembling pantheism in the view that I have upheld, and that to the contrary this position opens up the only possible way to a more interior understanding of the conjunction of God with men, and of the distinction between God and man. This it does in bringing forth the clear teaching that man is nothing but a finite vessel, and that everything of genuine good and truth, everything of genuine faith and charity, thus everything of the Church with and in him is of the Divine of the Lord, appearing as if it were his own, in the fulfilment of the will of God.

On the other hand the second view, the present doctrine that all good and truth with men are finite, leaves the man of the Church with no idea of the supreme end of their religion, which is the conjunction of God with man. By making everything from God with men finite, and thus inanimate and dead, it leaves no basis for the conjunction of the infinite with men. For this reason some have described this doctrine as separating the Church from the Lord. Certainly to me it appears to leave entirely out of its consideration the very basis of the conjunction of the Lord and the Church. Not only does it neglect the teaching of that basis, but runs counter to it.

The doctrine that good and truth with men are merely finite leads us to a philosophy of blindness and illusion. According to it the Church as far as man's part in it is concerned becomes a matter of human concepts, of vague gropings after ends which after all have no relation to the Divine end. We may do our best to understand and obey, but we can never know whether what we understand is the Divine truth or not, nor what we do of the Divine good. The Lord may accept us because our intention is good, but there is no actual conscious cooperation on our part in His Divine work. It is all a question of God overruling and bending our mistakes to some unknown purpose of His own which He can never communicate to us. This, gentlemen, is no true description of a genuine Church. It is not what we want the General Church to be. This may be what happens in a spurious church, or in a falsified church. It may be what happens in us individually if we refuse to understand and obey the Word of God, but it is not a true description of the office and function of the genuine Church on earth, which is the Bride and Wife of the Lord. That office and function is to receive consciously the Divine Wisdom of Her Husband, and His Divine Love, and to clothe and bring these forth in Doctrine and Life divinely conceived and ordered.

The present doctrine has been brought forth in an endeavor to avoid pantheism. I feel that it is my duty to point out that it leads itself toward the very pit from which it would escape. There are two possible ways in which man can put himself in the place of God. One is to suppose that he is the infinite Divine itself, an insanity so obvious that no one would believe it but the man himself. The other way is that man might claim something which is actually Divine as being himself, although he does not call it Divine. The first way is to suppose that that which is properly of man is Divine. The latter way is to suppose that that which is proper to the Divine is finite, and therefore man himself.

Consider the warning given in number 201 of the Doctrine of Charity:

"The Lord cannot create and finite Himself in another. Thus He Himself would be no more, and thus the universal human race would be God, and each one by himself, to think which is not only irrational, but abominable."

God cannot create and finite Himself in another. If He could, man would be God, and God would be no more. From this we can see that there is no escape from pantheism by supposing that God finites His proceeding in the receptacle man. And if we come into the conclusion that the man himself is that Divine finited the result would be that we shut God out of our lives, and make ourselves as gods in our own small sphere.

The Christian Church in its prime fell into this form of deifying men. In number 4738 of the Arcana Celestia we are told of how the leaders of the Church at that time came together at a certain council and concluded that both a Divine and a human nature must be attributed to the Lord. The number adds:

By this means they were able to rule in heaven and on earth, because they had it from the Word that to the Lord was given all power in heaven and on earth, which power could not have been attributed to any vicar if His Human also were acknowledged to be Divine; for they knew that no one was allowed to make himself equal to God, and that the Divine had this power of Itself, but not the Human unless it had been given it, as it was afterwards to Peter. They continued that the schismatics of that day were men of acute discernment, whom in this way they were able to quiet, and by this means the papal power was also confirmed. From all this it is evident that this distinction was invented merely for the sake of dominion; and that for this reason they were not willing to know that the power given to the Lord's Human in heaven and on earth shows that it also is Divine. That Peter, to whom the Lord gave the keys to heaven, does not mean Peter, but the faith of charity, which because it is from the Lord alone, is the power of the Lord alone, can be seen in the preface to the twenty-second chapter of Genesis."

In order to establish their authority over the Church the papists did not make the mistake of calling themselves Divine. They could not win support for such an idea. Instead of this they called the Human of the Lord merely human, separating it from the Divine. Having done this they could then easily put themselves up as vicars of Christ, ruling in His stead.

The new doctrine of finite, merely human good and truth seems to me to be leading to a similar form of the replacement of God by men. Everything received from God by man according to this doctrine is finite and merely human. The faith of charity, which is the Divine power of the Lord, signified by Peter, is also called merely human. In all things of the work and office of the Church which are given into the hands of men, merely human concepts and merely human ideals must prevail. According to this doctrine there can never be more than this. There can never be with man anything more than merely human, finite concepts of any truth or of any use. But in spite of this fact men must govern the Church, and act according to those concepts. This doctrine indeed acknowledges the overruling Providence of God, which bends all man's temporary and passing ideas and endeavors into some pattern of His own, but all this is outside of man's consciousness. As far as men are concerned as to their conscious thoughts and actions the human concept must prevail, as this is all that appears to be theirs, and under no circumstances must this human be acknowledged as Divine.

How far this view leads away from the supreme end of creation as taught in the Writings!

"The Lord's Divine Love is such that it wills that what is its own shall be man's, and as these things cannot be man's, because they are Divine, it makes them to be as if they were man's. In this way reciprocal conjunction is effected, that is, that man is in the Lord, and the Lord in man. (Apocalypse Explained. 971:5.)

How different does it make the Church with men from the way the Church is described in the Writings!

"When it is said Church and Heaven the Divine of the Lord is meant with those who are there." (Arcana Celestia, 10125.)

May the Church reconsider its understanding of the nature of good and truth received by angels and men from the Lord! Let it turn its attention to those Divine things which it receives from the Lord, the Divine things which make and constitute its Doctrine and its Life, the infinite and eternal things of its faculties of liberty and rationality, the infinite and eternal things of its faith and charity. These things the Lord gives to us to be as if they were our own, in order that His Divine Love and Wisdom may be and exist in others outside of Himself, blessing them with the conscious perception and sensation of life. These are the things which make the Church the Bride and Wife of the Lord. It is for the Church to receive the Love and Wisdom of its Divine Husband, and to cherish them as being forever His in itself.

3 celestial:         Lord’s New Church -> DOC is Divine in our conscious

2 spiritual:         General Church -> DOC is human but the Divine is in the unconscious. 

1 natural:          Christian Church -> DOC is Divine & ascribed to us. 

            New-Church Phases of Regeneration

 

4)        Since the DOC is Divine, it has an interior. For example, the expressions "Christian Church," "GC," & "LNC," represent & signify the inner phases of regeneration in the NC person. Thus, "Christian Church"="Christian Church phase of regeneration in the NC person." In the LNC phase of regeneration the NC person has come to accept & perceive the Divine in the good we appear to do as-of-self, and the true we appear to think as-of-self. In this state there is charity in the first place. There cannot be a firing of the Bishop, which represents the state when truth is put first.

2)  To deny the Divine origin of DHL and Philip's writings, is to deny that the Divine is present in our conscious constructions of the doctrine of the church. This has now happened to the Philadelphia Society of the Lord's NC. Their firing their Bishop in the person of Philip corresponds to this denial.

PS: They still have time to reverse themselves and reinstate their Bishop!!

1)  To deny the interior of the Word, and in particular, the Latin Word, is to be led to deny that our interior good and truth is Divine, and this to deny that the Lord can be present in our conscious mind. And to do this is to make the religion of the NC to be of no effect. This has happened to the GC though Bishop De Charms, as documented in DHL.
PS: They can reverse themselves on this issue! It's not too late!!

    

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