A SERMON BY THE REV. E.S. HYATT, B TH
Preached in Parkdale, on the Sunday before Christmas, 1890. Published in New Church Tidings No. 74 Jan 1891.
“And the Word was made Flesh.” John i. 14
“‘The Word’ in Sacred Scripture signifies various things; as that it signifies a thing which really exists also the thought of the mind and thence speech.” —(Canons concerning God the Redeemer, Chap. 3).
Hence we are not justified in narrowing the application of the expression exclusively to any one thing ; it “signifies various things.” We are further taught in the same chapter of the Sacred Writings of the New Church, concerning this expression :‑
“That it primarily signifies everything that exists and goes forth from the mouth of God, thus Divine Truth ; therefore Sacred Writing (Scriptura Sacra), since there Divine Truth is in its own essence and form ; from this it is that that (Sacred Writing) is called in one expression, ‘The Word.’”
The same teaching is thus given in the Doctrine concerning the LORD:—
“Since all and single things of the Word are concerning the LORD, and the Word is the LORD because it is Divine Truth, it is evident why it it is said, ‘and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory.’”—(No. 2).
Now, if we wish to come into true thought concerning the all-important subject of the Advent of the Word among men ; if we desire to advance in that primary step of regeneration, which is to learn ” to think those things which are of faith and of charity ” (HD.181); we must be careful to have as the centre of our thought that which the LORD teaches to be the primary signification of the expressions of Sacred Scripture. In proportion as we let other significations, even though they be true in their proper places, occupy the central position, so far our thought will not be true. Let us, therefore, carefully order our minds in such a way that what is primarily signified by “The Word” may be within and above all our thought on the subject, entering into and giving to it its ruling quality. Unless we have this teaching, “that it primarily signifies everything that exists and goes forth from the mouth of God,” well established in our minds, we will be apt to restrict the meaning of the expression “The Word” with limitations of our own devising, and thereby block the way to those extensions of thought into which the Doctrines continually lead all who are teachable. Having this primary signification prominent in our minds, we can see something of the force of the conclusions which the Doctrines point out, namely, that what “The Word” primarily signifies is “thus Divine Truth ;” and “therefore Sacred Writing, since there Divine Truth is in its own essence and form.” It is “thus Divine Truth” because what proceeds from the LORD proceeds no otherwise than as Divine Truth. It is indeed Divine Truth conjoined to Divine Good; for Good and Truth in the LORD are one and proceed from Him as one; but the Good only proceeds in Truth and as Truth, and can only be manifested to our conscious thought as it exists in the forms of Divine Truth.
That those very forms might be perfectly adapted to the end of conveying to man’s conscious thought knowledge of the Divine Truth, and therefore of the Divine Good, the LORD has caused that the Truth He has revealed should take on its own forms, yea, its own literal forms. This the LORD has done with regard to every Revelation of Himself which He has made. In doing this He has made use of many human instruments, beginning with those represented by Enoch, down through Moses and the Prophets, and the Evangelists, to Swedenborg. In each case the Divine Truth revealed by the LORD took on its own forms, With Moses and the Prophets the Divine Truth descended to the corporeal plane of their minds and ultimated itself, by clothing itself with literal forms taken from that plane. Divine Truth, or the Word, was thus made flesh by being ultimated upon the corporeal plane of thought which was common to the Jews. With the Evangelists the Divine Truth descended to the sensual plane of their minds, that plane which is immediately connected with the senses, especially the senses of sight and hearing, ultimating itself there by clothing itself with literal forms taken from that plane. Thus in the Word of the Evangelists the LORD has effected His first Advent, the manifestation of Himself to man’s external senses. Therein is brought to us the idea of the LORD as a man on this earth, as seen and heard by the external senses. It is the means now whereby the LORD still makes His First Advent to individual minds, when that means is not made of none effect by human tradition. Thus in the Word of the Old Testament and in the Word of the New Divine Truth is ultimated for us on the corporeal and sensual planes; therein the Word is made Flesh and is presented as visible, audible and tangible by man’s senses. But the Human mind does not consist merely of the corporeal and sensual planes. These planes are intended to be but the basis for a higher plane, the Rational. The Human begins in the Rational and continues down into the sensual and corporeal. The three planes together make the complete Human. In order, therefore, that the LORD’S Advent might be complete, it was necessary, not only that He should present Himself as Divine Truth ultimated upon the corporeal and sensual planes, as in the Word of the Old and the New Testaments ; but that He should also present Himself, as Divine Truth ultimated on the Rational plane. This last presentation, is what is understood by the LORD’S Second Advent, by the coming of the Spirit of Truth—the Comforter—the Holy Spirit. What is called the Second Advent is, therefore, but the completion of the First. Through the instrumentality of Swedenborg, who was called to that office after sixty years of special preparation under the Divine auspices, the LORD has been pleased to again manifest Himself as Divine Truth, ultimated this time on the Rational plane, in literal forms taken by the Divine Truth itself from the human instrument, even as the literal forms of the previous Revelations were taken from other human instruments—with the difference, that in this case they were taken from a different plane of the mind.
Now, the Divine Truth thus ultimated upon the three planes—Corporeal, Sensual and Rational, presents to us, in all its fullness, the Divine Human of the LORD, the Word made Spirit, as well as the Word made Flesh. The Flesh is not the Human without the Spirit. ” It is the Spirit that vivifies, the Flesh profiteth nothing.”—(John, vi; 63). Not only is Divine Truth thus ultimated in literal forms, taken from the three planes of the mind ; but also it has, on each plane, taken the literal forms from that particular language, which would best serve the ultimation of Truth upon that particular plane. Those languages are respectively the Hebrew, the Greek and the Latin, for the same spiritual reason that the inscription upon the Cross was written in those three languages. On those three planes, from those three languages, the Divine Truth, in ultimating itself, has taken on its own literal forms. This is what makes Sacred Writing to be Sacred ; this is what distinguishes Sacred Writing (or Scripture) from merely human writing. Sacred Writing is Sacred, because the literal forms thereof are forms with which the Divine Truth has clothed itself, in order to become manifest to man. This is what makes the literal forms so holy—more holy than any sense which we ourselves can draw out of them, or otherwise express, because they are the LORD’S own means of manifesting Himself to His Church. Therefore they are perfectly adapted to the manifesting of Divine Truth on their own particular plane, whereas literal forms of man’s selection only-manifest, even his imperfect thought, in a more or less imperfect manner. The Divine Truth is, in Sacred Writing, ” in its own sense and form,” for thus the Lord has effected His Advent corporeally, sensually and rationally. It is important to recognize that there is really but one Advent of the LORD, and that the Advent of the LORD is His manifestation to us of His own mind on each plane of the Human which He assumed and glorified. These three planes are the Divine Human in fullness. The material flesh and blood, the material body in which the LORD was externally visible upon the earth, was not the Divine Human, although it may rightly be called so on account of the Divine Human which was in it. The Divine Human is the ultimation of Divine Truth upon the three planes which make the human mind, and which can outwardly appear in its own Divine Human form to the spiritual sight of man, when that sight is opened; and which does appear inwardly to all who recognize that the Revelation, in which the LORD has effected His Second Advent, is really a manifestation of Himself, that it is actually the presence of the LORD with us in His New Advent, come to guide those who are willing into all truth. This is the ‘LORD’S New Advent, the end and purpose for which the Word was made flesh. In the light of what the LORD teaches in the Doctrines we can see that there is, and can be, but one Advent of the LORD. That the previous manifestations of the LORD were but the preparation and foundation for the Advent which is now fully effected, because in Spirit as well as in Flesh. We read again in the same chapter of the Canons already quoted from :—
“That from these things it can be seen that by ‘the Word’ which ‘in the beginning was with God,’ and which ‘was God,’ and which ‘was with God before the world’ is understood the Divine Truth which was before creation in Jehovah, and after creation from Jehovah ; and finally the Divine Human, which Jehovah in time assumed ; for it is said that ‘the Word was made Flesh,’ that is, Man (Homo).”
The material body does not make Man ; but by Man (Homo) is meant the Human, from the rational to the sensual and corporeal planes of the mind. Such is the Divine Human which the Lord has assumed in time : the material body He put off. While, therefore, the thought of the LORD as He appeared in material flesh on this earth, must necessarily and forever be the most ultimate basis for all our thought concerning Him; let us endeavour to build upon that basis, thought of the LORD in His Divine Human, viewing the corporeal and sensual manifestations of that Human in the light of the rational manifestation thereof which is made in the Sacred Writings of the New Church, the Word which has come to us “from God out of Heaven,” the Gospel, the Glad-tidings, that is, “the Evangel, of the LORD’S New Advent.” This is the one birth of the Lord which we are called upon to celebrate—not the external of it separate from the internal thereof—not the birth in the flesh separate from the birth in the spirit; but both together as one whole; for that ought not to, nay cannot, be really separated which “God has joined together.” It is all made new, all made one. Having once seen this, then to look upon the First Advent, or the corporeal and sensual ultimation of the Divine Truth in the Word of the Old and New Testaments, as something to be regarded and reverenced separately from the spiritual Advent or separately from the rational ultimation of the Divine Truth in “the Evangel of the New Advent of the LORD,” is to go backward, in which direction the LORD never leads. To worship an external separated from its internal is Idolatry. There is for us but one Divine Word, even “the Divine truth which was before creation in Jehovah and after creation from Jehovah, and finally in the Divine Human, which Jehovah in time assumed.” That Human manifests itself infinitely, as every human does finitely, on three planes—the corporeal, sensual and rational. Taken together they are the one Divine Human, the one only LORD who is the sole object of the love and worship of the true Church.
So far as the Church goes back to the worship of the Word in the Flesh, as a separate object of worship, the Church thereby ceases to be the true Church, ceases to be the Church of the LORD’S New Advent. The Word, as it has been made Flesh, has been given to us by the LORD for the one end that it may be infilled with His Spirit and thus be His Divine Human. The Advent of the LORD’S Divine Human was not full and complete until He made that Revelation of Himself, which is the Internal Sense of the Word. In the Human assumed from the mother, the Word was made Flesh, in that it was ultimated on the corporeal plane of the mind which the LORD formed therein, which ultimation is given to us the Word of the Old and New Testaments. It was glorified when, though the ultimation of the Word on the rational plane in the Sacred Writings of the New Church, it was made one with Divine Good, the Father. If we wish the LORD to be glorified in our minds individually, we must suffer the Doctrines to teach to see these various manifestations of the same Divine Truth as one with the Divine Good and therefore as one with each other. Having been thus enabled to see them as one in our thought, we can then proceed to take them as one in their application to life according to them. They can only be thus one when the quality of the external is altogether determined and governed from the internal, and not the internal subjected to the external. The Word of the Old Testament, of the New Testament, and the Word of the New Advent will thus conjoin harmoniously in application to our outward lives, and the LORD will thereby be glorified therein.
Let us, therefore, seek to worship the LORD in His Divine Human, recognizing where and how that Human is fully presented to us, that thus the LORD’S New Advent may be effected in each of us individually. Let the Word made Flesh, as it has been received into our minds, be the recipient, continent and basis of the Spirit of the Word which the LORD has now revealed for us, so that the mind of each one of us may be formed into some image and likeness of the Divine Human, by the orderly reception of those ultimations of Divine Truth which manifest that Human to us. Only as we do this can we realize the significance which attaches to the declaration that “The Word was made Flesh.”
“‘The Word’ is for every Truth, in the heavens and in the earths, which is from the Divine.” —(A.C. 3704).