Heaven from the Word


Preached in Parkdale , 3rd May 1891, published in New Church Tidings, No 81, August 1891

“By the Word of the LORD were the heavens made.” Psalm xxxiii, 6.

“The Divine of the LORD makes heaven.”—(H.H. 7)

“The Word, because it is a Revelation from the Divine, is Divine in all and single things; for what is from the Divine, cannot be otherwise.”—(H.D. 252).

All revelation from the Divine is given for the purpose of making heaven in man. Heaven has never been made in any man in any other way and never can be made in any other way. Only by reception of Truth revealed from the Divine can heaven be formed within us. The heaven that is external to the Angels is formed from nothing else but from the heavens within the Angels, which are all formed from the Divine Truth received there.  By the Word of the LORD were the heavens made.

The Word has this power because all and single things of it are Divine; and they are Divine because they are revealed from the Divine, “for what is from the Divine cannot be otherwise.” Revelation from the Divine, there­fore, must be Divine, upon whatever plane it is ultimated. The Ancient Word is Divine; the Word of the Old Testament is Divine; the Word of the New Testament is Divine; the Revelation of the internal Sense of the Word is Divine. Each is Divine, although each Revelation is ultimated on a different plane. The fact of it being on a higher or lower plane cannot make it either more or less Divine. Indeed the terms more or less cannot be applied to the Divine.  Like the word “Infinite,” the very nature of the expression is such that it does not admit of qualifica­tion. The Infinite cannot possibly be added to, and there­fore we cannot say more Infinite. The Infinite cannot be lessened as to its meaning without passing to the finite, and therefore we cannot say less Infinite. So it is with the meaning of the word Divine, as used in the Doctrines of the New Church. Whatever can be truly called Divine is the LORD, therefore “more” could add nothing to its meaning. Whatever is not the LORD, cannot truly be Divine, therefore its meaning could not be lessened without passing to what is not Divine. Thus any Revelation that is from the Divine must be Divine, and no Revelation can be more than Divine. Hence the declaration “By the Word of the LORD were the heavens made,” means that heaven is made in man, by means of Revelation from the Divine. But the heavens are on three distinct planes. The heavens that are formed by regeneration in man’s mind are likewise on three planes. Every mind has three degrees or planes, as well the mind of the new birth as the natural mind. Therefore, Revelation from the Divine has to be ultimated on three planes in order thus to form in man’s mind what corresponds to the three degrees of heaven. The New Church is in this respect different from any preceding Church, in that she has these means in their three-fold fullness. She has the Word in the most ultimate form in the Old Testament and in the portions of the Ancient Word which are incorporated therewith. She has the Word in its intermediate ultimate form in the New Testament. And she has the Word ultimated in the most internal form that is possible in the natural world in the glorious Evangel in which the LORD has effected His New Advent, that Evangel which we know as the Writings of the New Church. Therefore it is possible now for heaven to be formed in man while in this world more fully than was ever possible before. By the Word of the LORD are the heavens made. By the Word in its trinal form are the heavens in their trinal form made in each individual recipient, which recipients collectively constitute the three heavens.

“What is from the Divine, that descends through the heavens even to man; wherefore in the heavens it is accommodated to the wisdom of the Angels who are there, and in the earth it is accommodated to the grasp of men who are there.”—(H. D. 252).

As we saw last week, the Word on each plane of its ultimation is the beginning of the working of God there; and that the lowest plane of ultimation is the means through which the intermediate planes are established. Thus the earth was created first, with its human inhabitants, and from them the heavens have been populated. These being made, the Divine descends through them to man, and is ultimated on each plane through which it passes, in accom­modation to those who are there. Not until there were three heavens, until the last of them was created at the time of the last Judgment, could the Divine so pass through the heavens, that the Word could be given on earth in its full trinal form. Only then could the LORD manifest Himself in the glory of His Divine Human and be fully and directly present with man, on each of the three planes of his life, as He now is in His New Advent, with all who are willing to receive Him.

The Word is present here with men to make heaven in their minds. Therefore it has to be accommodated to those who are natural, as well as to those who have become spiritual, and who to that extent are internally Angels.

“Wherefore in the Word there is the internal sense, which is spiritual, for angels ; and the external sense, which is natural, for men”—(H. D. 252).

But each regenerating man here is only as to part of his mind regenerated and is as to the rest unregenerated. Therefore on whatever plane of life he may be, the external of the Word, as ultimated on that plane, is accommodated for application to the part of the plane still unregenerated, while the internal of it is accommodated to the regenerated part—the part that has been made into heaven. Thus the Writings, being the Word ultimated upon the rational plane, have been given in order to make heaven upon the rational plane of man’s mind. Their external form, there­fore, is accommodated for application to man’s natural or unregenerated rational in order that it may be regenerated and become spiritual, and thus heaven within him. But only in proportion as the spiritual rational is thus formed in man, can the sense which is contained within the external form in which the Writings are ultimated be grasped in its genuine meaning.

“Hence it is that there is conjunction of heaven with man through the Word.”-(H.D. 252).

Conjunction, not only of the heaven of Angels with us here, but also of the regenerated part, or heaven within us, and our natural or unregenerated part, in order that the mind may be gradually regenerated, thus gradually made into heaven, and the man, at last, be thereby fully introduced into heaven.

Thus, while one ultimation of the Word is an ultimation of its internal sense and another an ultimation of its external sense, yet each ultimation, like everything else, has its own in­ternal and its own external. The external of each ultimation of the Word can be perverted by the recipients of it into what is false and opposite to its genuine sense. Each ultimation has its own genuine sense of the Word upon its own plane, if only man do not pervert it in reception. In the Word of the Old Testament are many clear statements, setting forth the unity of God, the oneness of Jehovah and the Saviour. If regarded in the light of that teaching, the Word of the Old Testament conveys the sense of the Word which is gen­uinely adapted to the corporeal plane of man’s mind. But at the LORD’S First Advent this genuine sense had been entirely perverted and made of none effect by mere human tradition. The like was the case with regard to the Word of both Testaments, when the LORD effected His New Advent. All those statements of true Doctrine, the light of which would have made manifest the genuine sense of the Word as ultimated in the Old and New Testaments, had been so perverted as to be of none effect, so that the Word was read and understood only in the darkness of man’s own intelligence, instead of in its own light. The Word was therefore made of none effect—that is, it could no longer make heaven in man, inasmuch as it was only used to confirm man’s merely natural states, instead of to lead men out of them.

Now, the LORD has by a new Revelation restored this light. But this Revelation of the Word also can be under­stood in its genuine sense, or in a sense not genuine. Only the genuine sense can make heaven on the rational plane of man’s mind. The sense not genuine is of no effect for this purpose; but only confirms man in his merely natural rational state.

“No others understand the genuine sense of the Word than those who are enlightened ; and those alone are enlightened who are in love and faith in the LORD.”— (H.D. 252).

There is but one kind of love and faith recognized as genuine in the Word—the kind that is manifested in obedi­ence to what the LORD teaches. Any other kind is either merely sentimental love, or faith alone, and therefore altogether spurious. The LORD has now effected His New Advent in His New Evangel, and is therein present with us. How are we to be in love and faith in Him, and thereby be of those who are illustrated or enlightened so as to under­stand the genuine sense of that ultimation of the Word in which He has now come? Only by entering into states of obedience to what is taught in this manifestation of Him­self which is His New Advent—that is how we should love Him ; and by studying that Revelation in its own light— that is how we should show faith in Him. This is the only light which spiritually enlightens us to see the genuine sense of the Word there revealed—that sense which alone can make heaven in us. Those who have such love and faith in the LORD see the genuine sense, which is a spiritual manifestation of the LORD Himself.

“For their interiors are elevated by the LORD into the light of heaven.”—(H. D. 253).

The light of heaven is Divine Truth as it is with the Angels, the LORD Himself, as He is with them, as Our Father in the Heavens. If, however, we only study that Revelation in order to establish our right to go the ways we naturally love, we practically love self and not the LORD. If we only study that Revelation in the light of our own intelligence, we practically have faith in ourselves and not in the LORD. Hence we cannot be enlightened. And therefore we see that Revelation either in total darkness, or in that fatuous light which makes the genuine sense appear false and the perverted sense appear true. In which case we render it of no effect to make heaven in ourselves.

It is practically the same thing if we read the Writings in the light of that perverted understanding of the previous ultimations of the Word which is derived from the con­summated Church. To do so is indeed often claimed to be putting the Writings in subordination to the Word; but, in fact, it is putting a higher ultimation of the Word not only in subjection to a lower ultimation of the Word, but in subjection to a perverted understanding of that lower ultimation, thus in subjection to what is but an aggravated form Of self-intelligence. Such a course must effectually prevent the making of heaven in us.

To read the Word, as manifested in any Divine Revela­tion thereof, in its own light is, therefore, to regard it according to its own teaching, or what is the same, its own Doctrine, instead of according to our own teaching or that of the world.

“The Word in the letter cannot be grasped except by Doctrine from the Word made by one enlightened.”— (H. D. 254).

If it cannot be grasped, it cannot be applied; if it cannot be applied, it cannot make heaven within us. This is true of any ultimation of the Word. The letter in which it is ultimated cannot be grasped except by Doctrine from the Word made by one illustrated or enlightened. We have seen who are enlightened—those who have the love and faith in the LORD which causes them to study Divine Revelation in its own light, that is, according to its own teaching ; and also the lower ultimations of the Word in light of the higher, or according to the teaching or Doctrine of the higher. We cannot truly see the genuine sense of any Divine Revelation except we thus allow ourselves to be elevated by the LORD into the light of heaven. That sense positively cannot be seen in merely natural light. For the light of heaven is Divine truth, and therefore when the literal forms of any Divine Revelation are filled by the reader with the merely natural light of his own intelligence, spiritual light is thereby shut out. The literal words which are used in Divine Revelation are in great part, words that have been or are used for merely natural purposes, to convey among ourselves the things of our own intelligence. Therefore they are as naturally receptive of merely natural light as any words we use. If they are to convey to us the genuine sense of Divine Revelation, we must, by studying them in their own light, learn a quite new understanding of them. How different and opposite, for instance, is the meaning of the word “Charity,” if we let our own intelli­gence, or the wisdom of the world put the meaning into it, from what it means, if the Doctrine of the New Church put the meaning into it; thus, its meaning as viewed in the light of the world, from its meaning as viewed in the light of heaven which the Doctrines shed upon us! However much progress we may have made in acquiring such a new understanding of that word, let us not think that our under­standing of it is absolutely pure. If our understanding of it is from self or the world it is false. If it be really from the Doctrines it is approximately true; but capable of becom­ing ever more approximately true in proportion as the light of the Doctrines is more fully shed upon it. So with innumerable other words used in Divine Revelation. How opposite, again, is the meaning of the words, “Our Father in the Heavens,” when filled with the intelligence of the Old Church, from their meaning when filled with the intelligence which flows from the Doctrines! How clear it is that only their genuine sense can make heaven in us. The more fully we come into the genuine sense, the more practical it becomes, the more evident becomes its application to our own selves. “Our Father in the heavens” according to the Old Church misunderstanding, how vague and indefinite! When understood to be the LORD Jesus Christ, it becomes more definite and practical. But when understood to be the LORD in His New Advent, as He is manifested to us in the Writings, then it is seen to be filled with infinite particulars, applicable to our own lives, for the expulsion of hell from within us, and the making of heaven there. Wherefore the letter conveys but little at first in proportion to what increasing knowledge of Doctrine after­wards enable us to see therein. It is for the sake of the simple in heart and faith that the external of each ultimate form of the Word is such as it is. Yet within, in each ulti­mate form, there is Infinite Wisdom, into which we cannot be led except by means of Doctrine. All alike need to pass from the mere external to some reception of the internal in order that heaven may be made within them. Even the simple need to do so in order to pass from the innocence of ignorance into the innocence of wisdom.

“The Sense of the letter is accommodated to the grasp of’ even simple men; wherefore they must have doc­trine from the Word for a lamp.”—(H.D. 254).

There must be, and there will be, Doctrine or teaching for every one who really seeks it. Remember, then, that this must be, if we are to receive the means of making heaven within us, and that we seek and obtain such teach­ing by studying Divine Revelation in its own light—looking there alone for the true meaning of the words and phrases used. Let us ever seek, therefore, to study the Revelation in which the Word is ultimated for the New Church in that love and faith in the LORD which can cause us to be en­lightened as to its genuine sense, so that thus the Word of the LORD may make heaven within each one of us.

About David Millar

My passion revolves around supporting people to engage with the Lord's Word, or Divine truths in the form of sacred texts, to cultivate an intentional spiritual practice. Through the works penned by Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) we find that the Biblical texts contain a deeper meaning that, once understood, enables them to be applied in ways that open the human mind to the realisation of its spiritual potential. The goal of the Divine Life is to free each and every human being from the pain of self centred living and bring them into the experience of all that is heavenly through the promotion of what is genuinely good and true. The material shared here is offered in the pursuit of that aim.
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