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Nine Questions (Swedenborg)

NINE QUESTIONS ON THE TRINITY AND RELATED TOPICS PROPOSED BY THOMAS HARTLEY TO EMANUEL SWEDENBORG WITH HIS ANSWERS

QUESTION 1 In what sense did the Lord call Himself the Son of Man, if He took only the flesh from the mother and not the rational soul? Does Human Sonship refer only to human flesh?

ANSWER The Lord called Himself the Son of Man, because He was the Word or Divine Truth as to the Human too; for in the spiritual sense 'Son of Man' means the truth of the church from the Word. The same was meant by 'prophet', because the prophets taught truths from the Word. Therefore the Lord, Who was in the supreme degree a prophet as well as the Word and consequently Divine Truth, called Himself as to the Human, the Son of Man. This is why it is often said in the prophets and in David, in treating of the destruction of truth in the church that the Son of Man dwells there no more. This is also why the prophets themselves were called sons of man, as in Ezekiel ii 3, 6, 8, iii 3, 4, 10, 17, 25, and frequently in the following chapters; likewise in Daniel. This has been shown from many passages in ANGELIC WISDOM CONCERNING THE LORD, which you should consult if available.

QUESTION 2 Did the Lord have from Jehovah the Father a rational soul to which the Divine Esse was united, whence He became truly God and truly Man?

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

QUESTION 3 Was there not always in the Divine nature a Trinity to be understood as Divine Love, Divine Wisdom, and Quickening Spirit or Holy Proceeding?

ANSWER The Divine Trinity in one Person ought to be understood as soul, body, and proceeding operation which together make one essence, since one arises from the other and consequently is part of the other. In every man there is likewise a trinity, which together constitute a single person, namely, soul, body, and proceeding operation. In man this trinity is finite, since man is but an organ of life, but in the Lord the Trinity is infinite and thus Divine, because the Lord is life itself as regards the Human too, as He teaches in John v 26, xiv 6, and elsewhere as well.

QUESTION 4 Does not the Son, by whom Jehovah is said to have created the worlds Hebrews i and xi, mean the same thing as the Divine Wisdom in Jeremiah x 12, li 15, so that the essential Wisdom or Loses of God in first principles has now become the Truth or Logos of God in ultimates?

ANSWER It does follow that the Lord, that is, the Word or Divine Truth by which all things were made which were made, and by which the world was created, John i 3, was the Divine Wisdom which together with the Divine Love constitutes one Divine Essence, thus one and the same God; for the Divine Wisdom is also the Divine Truth, since all the parts of Wisdom are truths. Being their very containant, Wisdom brings forth nothing but truths, and so this is entirely in keeping with Jeremiah x 12, ii 15. This is also how the passage in David, Psalm xxxiii 6, should be understood. The 'breath of His mouth' is also wisdom, and 'the Word' there is Divine Love and Divine Wisdom together, for it is said, 'And the Word was God', John i 1.

QUESTION 5 Is not the Holy Spirit in the New Testament the same as the Spirit of God in the Old Testament, only with the difference that before the Lord's incarnation it proceeded from the Divine Esse or Jehovah directly, or through the mediation of angels, while after the incarnation it proceeded through the Son or Divine Human?

Is the Holy Spirit not the same as the sphere of God?

ANSWER The Spirit of God and the Holy Spirit are two distinct things. The Spirit of God did not and could not operate on man except imperceptibly, whereas the Holy Spirit, which proceeds solely from the Lord, operates perceptibly on man, and enables man to understand spiritual truths in a natural way; to His Divine Celestial and Divine Spiritual the Lord has united the Divine Natural by which He operates from them. Besides, 'Holy' in the Word is attributed solely to the Divine Truth, thus to the Lord, Who is Divine Truth both in the celestial and spiritual sense and also in the natural sense, wherefore it is said in Revelation that the Lord alone is holy, xv 3, 4. See further APOCALYPSE REVEALED n. 173. And it is said in John that the Holy Spirit was not yet, because Jesus was not yet glorified, vii 39.

The Holy Spirit is the same as the Divine Sphere when by this is meant the Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom, both of which proceed from the Lord Jehovah out of the sun of the angelic heaven and make its sphere in the way that heat and light proceed out of the sun of the natural world and constitute its sphere; for heat from the sun of the angelic heaven is in its essence love, and light frost the same sun is in its essence wisdom. To these two the heat and light of the sun of the world correspond.

QUESTION 6 Was the Divine Human of Jehovah before the incarnation a Person subsisting of itself, as the Existere, form or body of God? Or was it an angelic form assumed as required for the purpose of manifestation?

Does it not follow that the Divine Human before the incarnation was different from the Divine Human now after the incarnation, since the Divine Trinity is in the Person of the Lord?

ANSWER Before the incarnation there was no Divine Human other than a representative one through some angel or other whom the Lord filled with His Spirit, as was stated above. And because this was representative therefore all things of the church at that time were representative and like dim shapes. But after the incarnation representatives came to an end as the shades of evening and night do when the sun rises. But the representative Human in which Jehovah presented Himself in the world before His actual coming was not Powerful enough to enlighten men spiritually; therefore enlightenment was brought about by means of types and figures alone.

QUESTION 7 May we not rightly say that the Holy Trinity is one and the same Lord under three characters, distinguished as to function or relationship with men, as Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; Divine Esse, Divine Human, and Holy Proceeding; and not as three persons, which would inevitably lead to three Gods?

ANSWER The Holy Trinity in one Person must be perceived as Divine Esse, Divine Human, and Holy Proceeding, thus as soul, body, and their power or operation, exactly as is shown in the notable occurrence introduced into THE TRUE CHRISTIAN RELIGION n. 188. As their products there follow in order: Creation, Redemption, and Regeneration, for Creation is the attribute of the Divine Esse, Redemption the attribute of the Divine Human from the Divine Esse, and Regeneration the attribute of the Holy Spirit which is the primary power or operation of the Divine Human from the Divine Esse. This is according to what is said in THE TRUE CHRISTIAN RELIGION n. 153-5.

QUESTION 8 It is said in 1 Cor. xv 45,'The first man Adam became a living soul...', and the genealogy in Luke iii, placing Adam first after God, reads, 'who was the son of God'. Is this not contradicted by saying that Adam was a church?

ANSWER In the genealogy of Luke iii it is not said that Adam was 'the son of God', but that Adam was 'of God', that is, created by God.

QUESTION 9 If there was no man named Noah, why is it said in Ezek. xiv 14, 'Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job...'? I am not much bothered by these details, Mr. Hartley says, but I should like to put the question.

ANSWER Noah is named in Ezekiel xiv 14 because of his having been named in Genesis, and the meaning is therefore the same in the prophet as it is in Moses. This man with his three sons was significative of the subsequent church. See the discussion of this subject in the ARCANA COELESTIA.

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