Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature
New Jerusalem Church
a title assumed by a body of Christians adopting the views taught in the theological writings of Emanuel Swedenborg (q.v.). They are theosophists, and their fundamental opinion is that the last judgment took place in the year A.D. 1757, when "the Old Church," or Christianity in its hitherto received form, passed away, and all things became new through revelations made to Swedenborg. This is the reason why the body calls itself "The New Church," or "The New Jerusalem Church."
I. Theory and Doctrines. —
1. Of God. — The New Jerusalem Church maintains the strictly personal unity of God: one will, one understanding, one operating energy or producing power. Only prominent ideas can be given in so brief a sketch as the present. The infinite, eternal Being, Jehovah, the Lord, is essential divine love or goodness, and essential divine wisdom or truth. From these two fundamental faculties or qualities proceed all his other attributes of omnipotence, omniscience, and omnipresence. He is self-existent, before all worlds, and before the times or spaces were brought forth; therefore is "in space without space, and in time without time." He cannot be apprehended by a merely natural idea, but only by a spiritual idea; nature is separate from him, and yet he is omnipresent in it. His love operates by his wisdom to produce all things.
2. Of Man. — The end, or divine purpose, in creation is a heaven out of the human race. For this object and use the worlds were made, and are now sustained, and to the same end are directed all operations of divine Providence: namely, to fill heaven with free, intelligent beings, who can reciprocate his love, who can live in increasing purity and mutual love to each other, and be growing in true blessedness forever, and whom he can gift with light, happiness, and every good continually.
Man was made in the image and likeness of God, with finite faculties corresponding to his infinite faculties: a will, to be the receptacle and seat of good affections; and an understanding, to be the receptacle and seat of true knowledge and ideas. Man is not the possessor of life, as a property inhering in himself, but is created an organism recipient of life, which is constantly communicated by the Creator. Thus the Lord God breathed into man the breath of lives — namely, a life of affection and a life of thought — and man thereby became a living soul, and is a present and constant truth. The fundamental human endowments are freedom of will, by which is meant freedom of moral choice, and rationality, or the capacity of acquiring knowledge and exercising discriminating thought. These are carefully guarded and respected in all the operations of Providence. At the solicitation of the sensual principle of his own mind, and in the abuse of his freedom, man turned aside into transgression, and fell from his primitive integrity. The fall was not a necessity of man's freedom, but only an incident on this earth; there may be men on other planets, free, and yet who have not fallen. Evil has its origin in the will of man; sufficient freedom and sufficient power to produce it, and increase it from age to age, being a part of his original constitution. Without such freedom and power man would not be human, not a moral agent, but a machine or a creature of instinct. Entirely free moral agents could not be created without involving the possibility of transgression, and without freedom, moral and spiritual, good cannot be appropriated.
The sin of our first parents is not judicially imputed to their descendants, but in natural generation the seed, both of the mental and material organism, is transmitted, a living unit, composed of soul and body; and in the seed are treasured, latent, all the tendencies and capacities of life possessed by the parents. Hence the bias, tendency, or inclination to sin becomes native, and is inherited, growing stronger as the wickedness of each generation increases. Sin is predicable only of acts committed after the individual has begun to exercise some degree of rationality and freedom. Hence in the divine economy all who die infants, as well of Gentile as Christian parents, are saved, being received by the Lord, and instructed in the spiritual world, and prepared for heaven. In this connection is developed an encouraging view of the future of the Church. The entire tendencies of character being transmitted, by the same law there is hereditary good as well as hereditary evil; hence as the true Christian life is incorporated into the character of the parents, the evil tendencies of offspring will be modified; and as the life of the Church becomes progressively purified and sanctified, constantly better tendencies will be transmitted, the hereditary burden will be lightened, by the divine blessing on the Church, as the generations succeed, the new life in Christ Jesus coming in by degrees to replace the old corrupt life of the first Adam. Thus will come a basis for the fullness, for the latter-day glory of the Church. As hereditary evil is no further imputed than as it is made one's own by actual life, so with hereditary good, it is only bias that is inherited, and must be made actual to be appropriated. Thus the life of repentance, obedience, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and regeneration, will be just as requisite as ever to every member of the race.
The fall brought in spiritual death only, and not physical death, which was a law of organized bodies from the first. At the decease of the mortal part, men have in all ages risen almost immediately into the spiritual world, and to life and consciousness among the departed. That world is not a locality in some part of the material universe, but a plane of being above, and perpetually distinct from it. The spiritual body is a part of the man here, contained within the material body, the living form which gives life and shape to the outward body; consequently, when the outward body is laid aside at death, the man comes consciously into the spiritual world in perfect human form, as the blade of new grain comes forth from within the kernel of seedcorn cast into the ground, and so lives to eternity. Hence all spirits and angels are in human form, with indestructible bodies fitted to their mode of existence, and to the substances of their world, with every sense and faculty in full development. No deceased person ever returns to this world, or resumes a physical body.
3. The Spiritual World. — This is distributed into three great divisions: heaven (ozranos), the world of spirits (hades), and hell (gehenna). At death all at first go into the world of spirits (hades), intermediate between heaven and hell, where all are together until the judgment, when a separation between the good and evil is effected, the good being elevated into heaven, the wicked finding their abodes in hell.
Heaven and hell are constituted by corresponding states of mind and life. The heavens are founded on obedience to divine truth as expressed in the precepts of the Word of God — a life of love to God and one's neighbor; while the communities of the wicked are founded on the principles of selfishness and disorder. The blessedness of the former is communicated from the Lord through the medium of their orderly and obedient states of life; and the miseries of the other all flow as natural results from their evil states of life and companionship. The divine mercy extends even to those in hell, desiring to elevate all to itself, but the bad quality of their life and disposition constantly prevents.
Judgment in the world of spirits is not effected at once; the very good go sooner to heaven, the very bad sooner to hell. The mixed classes often remain in the intermediate state for long periods, accumulating there sometimes in immense numbers. At the end of each dispensation there is a judgment, which divides this multitude, and for the time empties the world of spirits of inhabitants. At the close of the antediluvian period there occurred such a judgment, at the time of the deluge, and another at the close of the Jewish dispensation, when our Lord was on earth. Many of the scenes depicted in the Revelation by John are incidents of such a judgment, the last one foretold by Daniel, and coincident with the Lord's second advent.
The association between the spiritual and natural worlds is so close that the state of the world of spirits powerfully affects the state of the world of men. When wicked multitudes accumulate there, supernatural influences of the worst kind flow back into this world and grievously afflict mankind. This was the condition of things in an eminent degree before Christ came. Mankind were almost entirely given over to wickedness. The world of spirits was full of demons, trying to gain full possession of men. The powers of hell abounded, usurping the whole field to themselves in both worlds. "A universal destruction stood before the door and threatened." Without divine interposition, all mankind would have perished, both as to soul and body. No flesh could have been saved, the race at length would have been swept from the earth and gone into hell.
4. The Incarnation of Jesus Christ. — Jehovah himself descended, the Lord, our Father, and assumed the human nature, that he might redeem and save men. This was accomplished by the miraculous conception in the womb of the Virgin. In Jesus Christ the fullness of the entire Godhead dwells bodily. The divine Trinity, of essential constituents, is all in him in one person. The two natures, divine and human, are together in him in perfect union; his divine part he calls "the Father," the human part, assumed in order to appear in the world, and born in time, is called "the Son." The angel said to Mary, "that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." and this is the only begotten of the Father." The Holy Spirit, the Comforter, is the new divine influence which the Lord sheds upon the believer and the Church through his glorified human nature.
The glorification of the humanity thus assumed by the Lord is believed to be a doctrine peculiar to this system. This was a progressive work, effected by temptations admitted into his human part. The divine could neither suffer nor be tempted. There was human parentage on one side only, hence the strictly human elements naturally derived in ordinary generation, liable to temptation, and of disorderly bias, existed in him as coming from the mother only, forming thus only an exterior clothing or covering to his interior soul, which was the very indwelling of the Father. The external human elements were one by one successively removed and rejected; while the divine elements from within as successively came forth, and down, occupying their places, until every part of his humanity was glorified and made over anew. Thus God became Man, and Man God, in one person. Thus the two natures became and remain perfectly united; Father and Son became one. Hence, since his resurrection and ascension above all the heavens, the Lord's humanity is no longer like the humanity of another man, but essentially divine in all its constituents; a glorified, transfigured form, in which, and in which alone, supreme Divinity dwelland is manifested, as a man's soul dwells in his own body, and is manifested through that. Thus "the Lamb' becomes the only object of Christian adoration and worship, as he declares to John in Revelation, "I am He who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty." He alone is worshipped by angels. The Lord's glorification being thus a real incarnation, the Divinity coming down into the flesh is the grand archetype of the Christian's regeneration and sanctification, and the procuring means by which it is wrought out. "For their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also may be sanctified through the truth." It is ours to "follow" him "in the regeneration," and "overcome even as" he "overcame." From those states of temptation, resistance to the influences of hell, combat, and victory in himself, he gives the Holy Spirit, which is a powerful spiritual influence, flowing from his own exercise of love, power, and will in similar states; aiding, strengthening, and healing the faithful believer in his states of trial, temptation, and combat. He took not on him the nature of angels, but the seed of Abraham. "For that he himself hath suffered. being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted." He "was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." Thus he took on our infirmities and bore our sicknesses. Thus he sacrificed himself day by day; his whole life was a sacrificial offering for our sakes, and by his stripes we are healed. Such was the work of reconciliation or atonement.
By this process of glorification he effected also the work of redemption, which was a purely divine work, consisting of a subjugation of the powers of hell, represented and embodied in hosts of personal wicked spirits or demons, which held mankind in spiritual bondage, and, without relief, would have utterly destroyed them. He executed a judgment in the world of spirits, casting down Satan and his crew. The passion of the cross was the last great temptation which he as greatest Prophet endured, and which completed the work of his own glorification and of the subjugation of the powers of hell, so as to keep them in subjection to his humanity forever, to the perpetual liberation of mankind.
5. The Bible. — The plenary inspiration of Holy Scripture is maintained in a supereminent sense. The Lord is believed to be immanently present in his Word by his Spirit. A clear distinction is made between the two kinds or modes of inspiration, the mediate and the immediate, or between that which is dictated or spoken to the prophet and that which is given by influx (infused); thus, in the Old Testament, between "the Word of the Lord" and the "Kethubim" of the Jewish Church. The whole "prophetic Word" is held to have been spoken by a living voice from on high, and contains everywhere within it a spiritual, heavenly, or true Christian sense. The whole "Word," while it is true, literal history, is at the same time what the apostle calls the history of Sarah and Hagar, viz. a divine "allegory;" in which lessons of heavenly wisdom are constantly taught under a veil of natural thoughts and imagery. The law of this figurative or symbolical mode of expression is simple, according to the universal analogy of nature, expressed by the apostle, "the invisible things of the Creator are seen in the things that are made," and is called the "law of correspondences." Many applications of this law are so obvious that the Church in all ages has understood portions of the Word according to it. In this system it is applied to the whole "Word," and its universality and uniformity maintained by an extensive citation of texts. The term "prophetic" is here used in its widest sense, including the five books of Moses, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Psalms, and all the prophets. The writers had "open vision," having immediate communication with heaven. The letter is sometimes expressed according to apparent truths, or the appearances of truth, while the spiritual sense is always according to genuine truth. To the remaining books nearly coincident with the "Kethubim" of the Jews, a similar style and meaning is imputed to that generally held among Christians, their entire meaning is conveyed in their plain, grammatical sense. A similar distinction is carried forward into the New Testament. The four Gospels and the Revelation are held to be pre-eminently "the Word of the Lord," and to contain "a wheel within a wheel," a spiritual meaning within the letter; while the apostolical writings, penned by the men filled with the Holy Spirit" and communicating with heaven, yet do so less immediately than the others, and convey all their meaning in the letter.
6. The Divine Government. — The providence of the Lord is his government of the world, exercised from love and guided by infallible wisdom; most scrupulously preserving man's freedom in everything, while directing all affairs to the greatest possible good. Eternal ends are constantly kept in view by the Lord, temporal things being regarded only as they may be made subservient to the interests of the soul. The divine inspection and operation descend to the minutest particulars of every man's life, the object being to regenerate every one who in freedom will allow himself to be regenerated, and so to bring him to heaven at last, if possible.
7. Salvation. — In order to be saved, all men require spiritual regeneration, in which the desires of the heart and the ideas of the thought are entirely renewed. This is effected altogether by divine influence upon the soul, producing a new creation or new birth, mall all the while cooperating by shunning in his life whatever is sinful in the sight of God. While man works externally, God works internally. All merit belongs to the Lord, there is none in man. The super-abounding divine goodness or mercy is the imputative ground or forensic basis of forgiveness, which is freely accorded to all, under every dispensation, on the simple condition of repentance and departure from evil. "All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him" (Ezekiel 18:22). As soon as sins are forsaken in the name of the Lord they are remitted. "Election" is conditional, being the result of man's own free choice of life; and "effectual calling" depends upon his own perseverance in the way of a righteous life. First comes reformation of conduct, and then regeneration of the heart, or, as it is sometimes called, sanctification, a progressive work, continuing to eternity.
The means of salvation, on the part of man, is a life according to the divine precepts contained in the Word. This form of expression is believed to be most comprehensive, and the only truly comprehensive one that can be used; for he who lives in the effort to obey what is commanded in God's holy Word will be in the right way to procure every element of a pure and righteous life. He will believe the Gospel, have faith in Christ, possess charity in the affections of the will, and show forth good and acceptable works. Religion in the heart, which is love or charity, religion in the understanding, which is faith in genuine truth, and religion in the actions, which are good works, are held to be unitedly and equally necessary to the Christian life or character; and the degree of purity is marked by the degree of conformity to the precepts of truth one yields in actual life.
8. Sacraments. — Baptism and the Holy Supper are the only two sacraments; they are of divine institution, of permanent obligation, and, like the Word in which they are commanded, both have interior, spiritual significations, communicating with heaven. They are means of actual grace, being media of bringing down renewing and sanctifying influences into the minds of worthy recipients. Hence to these they are signs and seals of divine blessing, but bring no good to the unworthy.
9. Eschatology. — One of the most noticeable features of this theology is its doctrine of eschatology. It is maintained that angels and devils, all inhabitants of the other world, indeed all finite spiritual beings, are men, and have originated in material bodies on some earth or planet. Heaven, therefore, owes its increase to the Church on this and other earths. The physical globe being thus needed as a seminary for mankind, where they can be born and instructed and prepared for heaven, will never come to an end, nor be destroyed, nor have the historical continuity of its affairs broken up, but, with the starry heavens above, will perpetually remain for this use, a monument of the wisdom and goodness of the Creator. The "consummation of the age" spoken of in the Gospel refers to the end of the first Christian age, or closing up of the apostolical dispensation, the second coming of the Lord, and a consequent judgment. These events, it is alleged, have already taken place, or are now in process of being fulfilled. The things foretold in the Book of Revelation by John are at this day receiving their fulfillment. The end of the former dispensation came about the middle of the last century, after all things in the divine providence had been prepared. As explained above, the judgment is a process belonging to the unseen world, being effected only in the world of spirits intermediate between heaven and hell. Consequently it is an event not of this visible world, and which no mortal eyes can behold-an event, a knowledge of which, whenever it does occur, cannot possibly become known to men, except by the testimony of some one raised up by the Lord, and gifted with seership or "open vision" to witness and record it, as John was shown the vision which foretold it. And this is the claim made by Emanuel Swedenborg; that he was so gifted and commissioned by the Lord to witness, describe, and declare it, as a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. The judgment occurred in 1757, and marked the change from the apostolic to the apocalyptic dispensation. Since then we have been living under the new order.
The second coming of the Lord is not personal, visible, but spiritual. As to its outward means or instrumentality, it consists of a body of new truth or doctrine. disclosed from the true meaning of his own Word. The entrance of this body of doctrine into our world is prefigured by the birth of the man-child in Revelation, and the opening of the book sealed with seven seals symbolizes the opening or explanation, the spiritual or heavenly meaning of the Bible. The Lord comes thus to the rational thought of mankind, creating a new dispensation of light.
The execution of the judgment in the world of spirits in 1757 removed many infernal and obstructing influences which hindered the progress and improvement of mankind. A vast dark cloud of evil hovering over Christendom in the invisible world was dissipated, and better influences from heaven began at once to flow in, taking effect over the whole Church, and in all parts of the world. The extraordinary changes that have since taken place, and the new age of light and progress since inaugurated, are regarded as proceeding from this cause, as being visible tokens of the Lord's second advent, and as striking confirmations of Swedenborg's representations. The presumption is that the changes will continue, the opinions of men gradually modifying, until these truths are generally recognized and accepted.
From the divine Word thus opened, explained, and interpreted comes the system of divinity here taught, a revealed system, the one meant by the Lord, and believed and understood by the angels, and thus taught in the Church in heaven. The institution of a Church on earth having the heavenly platform, and therefore endeavoring to establish the heavenly truths in the world, is what is meant by the New Jerusalem which John saw, and is described in Revelation 21, 22, and also meant in Daniel by the "kingdom" to be set up in the latter days — to be the crown and completion of all churches, and to last forever. The glory and honor of the nations are to flow into it, while those who are saved will walk by the light of it. It will be composed of all those who acknowledge and approach the Lord Jesus Christ alone as the only God of heaven and earth, and lead a life of obedience to his precepts. It is called the Bride, the Lamb's wife, because it worships the Lord Jesus only, being spiritually conjoined to none but him. As this earth is needed as a seminary for the propagation and instruction of the human race, marriage is the divinely appointed means to that end; in itself a holy institution, the very foundation of heaven and the Church. The union of one man with one woman is essential to its very existence. By shunning every impurity as a sin against God, the love for each other in the minds of such partners becomes constantly cleaner and purer; the distinction of sex pertains to the soul, the two minds are exactly fitted to form a union, and the spiritual love and friendship of a pair remaining obedient to the divine precepts may continue to eternity. Wedlock is not only more useful than celibacy, but to those who follow a life of righteousness is spiritually purer, and more conducive to regeneration. Every departure from strict conjugal chastity, even in thought, is a divergence towards hell. By some reviewers, Swedenborg has been charged with looseness in this respect. Nothing can be further from the truth. He discriminates very clearly and justly the different degrees of disorder and criminality, but affords not the slightest plea for the least latitude on the part of a Christian. (See the editorial additions below.)
The difficulty, or rather impossibility, of giving an adequate idea of this system, or any of its parts, in a mere statement, arises from its comprehensiveness, and its exhaustive thoroughness in all its particulars. It is pervaded throughout by a profound philosophy of man, the soul, human society, and the universe, which cannot be wholly transferred to other pages than those on which it is originally found. It is alleged by its most intelligent students to be perfectly consistent and coherent throughout, and to answer satisfactorily every question which the rational religious mind desires to ask. It has undoubtedly definite teaching on a larger number of points than any other system of theology or philosophy that has ever appeared in the world. For some account of the writings in which it is contained and the literature of Swedenborgians, (See EMANUEL SWEDENBORG) in this work.
II. History and Organization. — Swedenborg took no steps towards an ecclesiastical organization, nor was there any movement of the kind until many years after his death, the first notices of it appearing about 1780. Since then there has been a steady and nearly uniform increase, zealous advocates of these doctrines being now found in all parts of the Christian world, and to some extent in regions beyond. They are making progress in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Russia, France, Germany, Switzerland, Great Britain, South Africa, Australia, and the East Indies, as well as in America. In Great Britain Swedenborgianism found its earliest organization under the name of "Theosophical Society" in 1783, and thus continued until 1788, when Robert Hindmarsh (q.v.) and friends hired a chapel in London, and established public worship and preaching according to Swedenborg's doctrines. The example was soon followed in other places, and there is in that country since the beginning of this century a General Conference, which was composed in 1873 of 58 societies, 26 ministers, and 4019 members, holding annual sessions, maintaining publishing and missionary societies and periodicals, besides many churches or congregations not in connection with the general body. There are numbers, too, of clergymen and laymen adopting a large portion of the views while retaining their connection with the other denominations. In Canada there is an association, composed of several ministers and churches, with scattered members, having an "ordained minister," or presiding bishop.
In the United States, where the first Swedenborgian Church was organized in 1792, at Baltimore, Md., a General Convention exists since 1817, incorporated under the law, having associations, societies, or members in nearly all the states in the Union; in 1890 it reported 113 ministers, 154 societies, and 7095 members; it holds annual sessions in different cities, maintains a Board of Publication, with a publishing-house in New York, issues three periodicals, sends out missionaries, has a theological school at Waltham, Mass., an American New-Church Sunday-School Union, and a New-Church National Church Music Society. No very precise ecclesiastical forms are prescribed in these doctrines, much freedom being allowed in this respect to the genius and wants of different nations, and the practical wisdom of the Church, the power being vested in the whole body of membership. The form principally assumed in this country is a modified or moderate episcopacy, with a ministry in three orders. Each state association has its "ordaining minister," or ecclesiastical overseer, whose office is permanent. In most of the congregations the worship has assumed a partially liturgical form, and a variety of liturgies, books of worship, and manuals of devotion have been issued in this country and in England. Each congregation is free to adopt its own mode, and hence all forms are found in use, from the simple, extemporaneous modes of the Puritans, to the ritual services of the prelatical churches. In all, however, forms expressed in the exact language of Scripture are preferred. In the General Convention the lay and clerical delegates meet and vote in one body. The accredited organ of the New Jerusalem Church in Great Britain is the Intellectual Repository, published in London; in Germany, the Wochen Schrift fur die Neue Kirche, at Stuttgard; in Italy, La Nuova Epoca; in the United States, the Jerusalem Messenger, at New York, and Bote der Neuen Kirche, at Baltimore. In England there is also published the Juvenile Magazine, and in this country the Little Messenger, for the youth.
There is also a "New-Church Congregational Union," composed of ministers and churches, with an aggregate membership of about 1000, preferring that form of organization, having its headquarters at Philadelphia, and maintaining its own Board of Publication, Tract Society, and periodical. There are, too, independent societies or churches, not in association with any general body, with numbers of believers communing in other denominations, and others not in connection with any Church.
Articles of Faith. — The Scriptures, as interpreted by the voluminous and verbose writings of Swedenborg, are taken generally as the standard of Swedenborgian doctrine; but a synopsis of their founder's opinions was made at the first organization of the sect in the form of forty-two propositions, taken from his works, and these propositions were embodied in thirty-two resolutions, which were agreed to at the first Conference on April 16,1789. These thirty-two "Resolutions" have again been condensed into twelve "Articles of Faith," which now form the standard of doctrine in the "New Church." They are as follows:
"1. That Jehovah God, the creator and preserver of heaven and earth, is love itself, and wisdom itself, or good itself, and truth itself: that he is one both in essence and in person, in whom, nevertheless, is the divine Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which are the essential Divinity, the Divine-Humanity, and the Divine Proceeding, answering to the soul, the body, and the operative energy in man: and that the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is that God.
"2. That Jehovah God himself descended from heaven as divine truth, which is the Word, and took upon him human nature, for the purpose of removing from man the powers of hell, and restoring to order all things in the spiritual world, and all things in the Church: that he removed from man the powers of hell by combats against and victories over them, in which consisted the great work of redemption: that by the same acts, which were his temptations, the last of which was the passion of the cross, he united in his humanity divine truth to divine good, or divine wisdom to divine love, and so returned into his divinity in which he was from eternity, together with and in his glorified humanity, whence he forever keeps the infernal powers in subjection to himself; and that all who believe in him with the understanding, from the heart, and live accordingly, will be saved.
"3. That the sacred Scripture, or Word of God, is divine truth itself, containing a spiritual sense heretofore unknown, whence it is divinely inspired and holy in every syllable, as well as a literal sense, which is the basis of its spiritual sense, and in which divine truth is in its fullness, its sanctity, and its power, thus that it is accommodated to the apprehension both of angels and men: that the spiritual and natural senses are united by correspondences like soul and body, every natural expression and image answering to and including a spiritual and divine idea; and tinius that the Word is the medium of communication with heaven and of conjunction with the Lord.
"4. That the government of the Lord's divine love and wisdom is the divine providence, which is universal, exercised according to certain fixed laws of order, and extending to the minutest particulars of the life of all men, both of the good and of the evil: that in all its operations it has respect to what is infinite and eternal, and makes no account of things transitory, but as they are subservient to eternal ends; thus, that it mainly consists with man, in the connection of things temporal with things eternal, for that the continual aim of the Lord by his divine providence is to join man to himself, and himself to man, that he may be able to give him the felicities of eternal life; and that the laws of permission are also laws of the divine providence, since evil cannot be prevented without destroying the nature of man as an accountable agent, and because also it cannot be removed unless it be known, and cannot be known unless it appear: thus that no evil is permitted but to prevent a greater, and all is overruled by the Lord's divine providence for the greatest possible good.
"5. That man is not life, but is only a recipient of life from the Lord, who, as he is love itself, and wisdom itself, is also life itself, which life is communicated by influx to all in the spiritual world, whether belonging to heaven or to hell, and to all in the natural world, but is received differently by every one, according to his quality and consequent state of reception.
"6. That, man, during his abode in the world, is, as to his spirit in the midst between heaven and hell, acted upon by influences from both, and thus is kept in a state of spiritual equilibrium between good and evil, in consequence of which he enjoys free-will, or freedom of choice, in spiritual things as well as in natural, and possesses the capacity of either turning himself to the Lord and his kingdom, or turning himself away from the Lord, and connecting himself with the kingdom of darkness; and that, unless man had such freedom of choice, the Word would be of no use, the Church would be a mere name, man would possess nothing by virtue of which he could be conjoined to the Lord, and the cause of evil would be chargeable on God himself.
"7. That man at this day is born into evil of all kinds, or with tendencies towards it: that, therefore, in order to his entering the kingdom of heaven, he must be regenerated or created anew, which great work is effected in a progressive manner by the Lord alone, by charity and faith as mediums during man's co-operation: that as all men are redeemed, all are capable of being regenerated and consequently saved, every one according to his state; and that the regenerated man is in communion with the angels of heaven, and the unregenerate with the spirits of hell: but that no one is condemned for hereditary evil any further than as he makes it his own by actual life; whence all who die in infancy are saved, special means being provided by the Lord in the other life for that purpose.
"8. That repentance is the first beginning of the Church in man, and that it consists in a man's examining himself, both in regard to his deeds and his intentions, in knowing and acknowledging his sins, confessing them before the Lord, supplicating him for aid, and beginning a new life: that to this end all evils, whether of affection, of thought, or of life, are to be abhorred and shunned as sins against God, and because they proceed from infernal spirits, who, in the aggregate, are called the Devil and Satan; and that good affections, good thoughts, and good actions are to be cherished and performed, because they are of God and from God: that these things are to be done by man as of himself; nevertheless, under the acknowledgment and belief that it is from the Lord operating in him and by him: that so far as man shuns evils as sins, so far they are removed, remitted, or forgiven; so far also he does good, not from himself, but from the Lord; and in the same degree he loves truth, has faith, and is a spiritual man; and that the Decalogue teaches what evils are sins.
"9. That charity, faith, and-good works are unitedly necessary to man's salvation, since charity without faith is not spiritual but natural, and faith without charity is not living but dead, and both charity and faith without good works are merely mental and perishable things, because without use or fixedness; and that nothing of faith, of charity, or of good works is of man, but that all is of the Lord, and all the merit is his alone.
"10. That Baptism and the Holy Supper are sacraments of divine institution, and are to be permanently observed — baptism being an external medium of introduction into the Church, and a sign representative of man's purification and regeneration, and the Holy Supper being an external medium, to those who receive it worthily, of introduction as to spirit into heaven, and of conjunction with the Lord, of which also it is a sign and seal.
"11. That immediately after death, which is only a putting off of the material body never to be resumed, man rises again in a spiritual or substantial body, in which he continues to live to eternity, in heaven if his ruling affections and thence his life have been good, and in hell if his ruling affections and thence his life have been evil.
"12. That now is the time of the second advent of the Lord, which is a coming, not in person, but in the power and glory of his holy Word: that it is attended, like his first coming, with the restoration to order of all things in the spiritual world, where the wonderful divine operation, commonly expected under the name of the Last Judgment, has in consequence been performed, and with the preparing of the way for a new Church on the earth — the first Christian Church having spiritually come to its end or consummation through evils of the and errors of doctrine, as foretold by the Lord in the Gospels; and that this new or second Christian Church, which will be the crown of all churches, and will stand forever, is what was representatively seen by John when he beheld the holy city, New Jerusalem, descending from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband."
It will be noticed by our readers that the view taken by the New Jerusalem Church of the person and work of Christ, as God, is fundamentally at variance with the opinions of all other Christian churches, whether Romanist or Protestant. The language of Scripture concerning justification and redemption is invested with a meaning altogether different from that which is usually assigned to it. It is denied, according to the Swedenborgian system, that the Son descended from the Father, and, further on, that the Father in his wrath condemned the human race, and in his mercy sent his Son to bear their curse. It is denied, and declared to be a fundamental error to believe, that the sufferings of Christ on the cross were the redemption of his people. The doctrine of imputed righteousness is distinctly denied. and declared to be a subversion of the divine order. Mediation, intercession, atonement, propitiation, are alleged to be forms of speech "expressive of the approach which is opened to God, and of the grace communicated from God, by means of his humanity." Swedenborg taught that in the fullness of time Jehovah assumed human nature to redeem and save mankind, by subjugating the hells and restoring to order the heavens.
Every victory gained by Christ over the temptations to which he was exposed weakened the powers of evil everywhere. The victory of the Savior is our victory, in virtue of which we are able, believing in him, to resist and vanquish evil. Redemption Swedenborg believed to be wrought for us only in so far as it is wrought in us: and that our sins are forgiven just in proportion as we are reclaimed from them. In regard to the future state, and the condition of the soul after death, it must have occurred to our readers that the doctrines of Swedenborgians differ greatly from those of all other churches. Thus the Swedenborgians maintain that there is a last judgment, both particular and general; the former relating to an individual of the Church, and the latter to the Church considered collectively. The last judgment, as it relates to an individual, takes place at death; the last judgment, as it relates to the Church collectively considered, takes place when there is no longer any genuine faith and love in it, whereby it ceases to be a Church.
Thus the last judgment of the Jewish Church took place at the coming of Christ, and accordingly he said, "Now is the judgment of this world, now is the prince of this world cast out." The last judgment of the Christian Church foretold by the Lord in the Gospels, and by John in the Revelation, took place, according to Swedenborg, in A.D. 1757; the former heaven and earth are now therefore passed away; the "‘ New Jerusalem" mentioned in the Apocalypse has come down from heaven in the forma of the "New Church;" and consequently the second advent of the Lord has even now been realized in a spiritual sense by the exhibition of his power and glory in the New Church thus established. Another important divergence in Swedenborgian belief from other Christians is that respecting holy Scripture, which is so stated by Mr. Hayden as hardly to convey clearly the belief of his Church. A reference to the third article of the Articles of Faith will make it clearer, and yet even it does not fairly cover it, for it omits the statement of the twelfth proposition taken from Swedenborg's Arcana Colestia and other "revelations." This statement is "that the books of the Word are all those which have the internal sense, which are as follows, viz., in the O.T., the five books of Moses, called Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy; the book of Joshua, the book of Judges, the two books of Samuel, the two books of Kings, the Psalms of David, the prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi; and in the N.T., the four evangelists — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John-and the Revelation. And that the other books, not having the internal sense, are not the Word" (Arcana Caelestia, n. 10,325; New Jerusalem, p. 266; White Horse, n. 16),
Thus ten books of the O.T., the Acts of the Apostles, and all the epistles of Paul and the other apostles, are set aside as no part of "the Word of the Lord." The remaining articles of the Swedenborgian Confession may be passed over without comment, since they deal more with theosophical views of love, wisdom, repentance, charity, faith, good works, etc., than with important articles of faith. It may be added here that when, in 1788, it was determined to effect a permanent religious organization of all Swedenborgians, it was thought expedient to establish a settled ministry, and it was arranged, by drawing of lots, that Robert Hindmarsh, the printer, should ordain his father, James Hindmarsh, and Samuel Smith, both of them being Methodist preachers who had seceded from Wesley's society. In the year 1818 the eleventh General Conference of the sect settled some doubts which had been raised as to the competency of Robert Hindmarsh to ordain others, seeing he had not himself been ordained, by determining unanimously "that Mr. Robert Hindmarsh was virtually ordained by the divine auspices of heaven" (see Hindmarsh. Rise and Progress of the New Church, p. 72, 310). In 1815 "a trine, or threefold order" of the ministry was established. It consists of the ordinary ministers, ordaining ministers, and a minister superintendent over and in behalf of the New Church at large.
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McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'New Jerusalem Church'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/n/new-jerusalem-church.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.