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Athanasian Creed, by Emanuel Swedenborg, [1759], tr. by Samuel H. Worcester [1885] at

Athanasian Creed


It is said that He also is a rational man; but because such a rational man is from the mother alone, lest there should be contradiction it therefore follows that the Divine and the Human are one Person; so there is agreement, and a contradiction does not result.


It was from the papists that the Lord's Human was made to be less than the Divine of the Father, and thus less than His own Divine.


That the Lord's Human is Divine, is manifest from the passages in the Word where the Lord is called "Redeemer"; as in the Old Testament, "Jehovah your Redeemer," "the Lord your Redeemer"; and this then is the Divine Human, for the Lord was the Redeemer as to that.


Whereas the Lord alone is acknowledged in all the heavens, and the Trine one in Him, therefore to acknowledge the Lord is the first thing. In no other way can any idea of the thought enter heaven, but is repelled; and neither is conjunction given in heaven, and thus in the world, and consequently there is not elevation into heaven after death.


The Lord in many passages calls Himself the Divine truth or "the Word," as in John in His transfiguration in the presence of the disciples, and in other places; the same is signified by "the Son of Man," and also by "the sons of man" in the Old Testament.


By his death the Lord rejected all the human that was from the mother, and put on the Human from the Father (concerning which see Apocalypse Explained, n. 899 at the end).


The Lord said that there was freedom to die, and not to die. This was the case in order that He might glorify His Human from His own proper power, and this must be from freedom.


To spirits who were saying that they believed in three Persons and still one God, because there is one essence or substance to the three, I said "What need is there of the metaphysical term essence, and substance?" that I might by this means persuade them. "Consult your thoughts; do you not think of three Gods? And so do you not believe in three Gods? Can you by any means think metaphysically?" And it was found that it was so; for if there are three Persons there are three Gods. That term involves nothing else than that they are of one mind; or that what one wills another wills; and what one does another wills; and then their properties differ; and then the Father is implored for the sake of the Son, and the Holy Spirit is approached for the sake of enlightenment; the Father is adored on account of creation, the Son on account of redemption, and the Holy Spirit for the sake of enlightenment. Would not this be allowable if God were three Persons? And each is one and another, as to works.


Worshiping the Father only, induces a severe pain in the arm and the shoulder blade. I know this by experience, for it has been tried many times.


Take the idea that there is one Person, and that the Trine is in that Person, and you will see that the Creed of Athanasius, from beginning to end, will coincide and harmonize with that idea; it will be free from paradoxes, or things that must be of faith although not understood.


That the Divine Human was from eternity is manifest from this, that the Lord says that Abraham saw Him; that it is He who was seen, and not the Father; that it is He who spoke; and that He is "the Holy One of Israel," who was seen; besides many other things in the Word. These things cannot be said of the Divine Itself, for this can appear to no one; but they can be said of the Divine Human.


Scarcely anyone knows why the Lord came into the world and became Man; therefore it shall be told; but it falls within the understanding of the learned only. There are successive things from the Lord through the heavens to man, and thus to ultimates. Successive order is not continuous but discrete; that is, one thing is from another, as is the case with everything in the world. The more remote things in successive order contain in themselves the successive things in their own order; which order is called simultaneous. In this order, namely, the simultaneous, all the successive things are together; so formed that you may wish to have a conception of them: the first things are there created within; and so on, even to the last circumference; and because successive things are together in the simultaneous, therefore in things simultaneous is all strength or all power at once. And because there was no longer this ultimate with men in the world, that is, in their truths and goods in which the Lord has His abode, therefore He Himself came into the world, that He might become the last, and that so the first might act by last things and reduce to order all things in the heavens and in the hells; that is, from firsts by lasts; for when He acted from firsts by lasts, He acted also by all things, and thus likewise by the successive things which were in order in the lasts as in their firsts. This now was the cause of the Coming of the Lord into the world; thus also He was where there is fullness in His creation; and the Lord works those things which He works, where there is fullness. It is for this reason that the Lord is called in the Word "the First and the Last"; and for the same reason the Word in the letter is most holy, because this is the Divine truth in the ultimate of order, and for the same reason also strength itself is there. That this is so, is known to me more than to others. For the same reason the Lord said to the disciples that He has flesh and bones, otherwise than a spirit; and thus can the Lord be present with man in ultimates, and can save those who also are in ultimates.


Man, because he is a miniature heaven, has also successive things in himself corresponding to the successive things in the heavens; and in his natural part especially, as the ultimate, the successive things are in simultaneous order; and whereas the Lord had heaven in His Human, consequently from the heaven in Himself He arranged into order all things in the heavens and in the hells.


(Concerning successive and simultaneous order see Heaven and Hell, n. 38. Quotations may be made therefrom.)


Moreover, it cannot be comprehended in the world that the Lord from Himself could arrange into order all things in the heavens and the hells. But they do not understand this, because they think from space and distance. But spaces and distances in the spiritual world are states of affections and thoughts; in accordance with these states are all spaces and all distances there; and this it has been given me to know from experience, namely, that things that were a thousand miles away, yes, a hundred thousand, were present when there was similarity of state. And from this I have been able to be present near earths in our solar system, and near earths beyond that system, while my body, and my spirit too, remained in their own place. What could not the Lord do, who wrought all things in Himself from the Divine, and from the Divine in Himself?


That the Lord from eternity was the proceeding Divine, thus the Divine Human, may be seen from this: that all heaven is the greatest Man, and the proceeding Divine makes heaven. (See Heaven and Hell where it treats of the greatest Man.) That this was the Divine Human is evident from the passages where it is said that the Father was not seen and that He did not speak, but the Son; then that the Lord spoke through the Prophets; also for the reason that God cannot appear as Man except from the proceeding Divine.


That the Lord says that He should be with the Father as it had been from eternity, is for the reason that in the world He was the Divine truth which is the proceeding Divine. It is plain from this what was the Son of God from eternity, and what the Son of God that was born. No mortal can comprehend what "born from eternity" means, in any other sense; but what has now been said can be comprehended.


That the Lord is the Father may be shown from the Word. He is there said to be "Father of eternity," "Jehovah," "one with the Father," "in the Father and the Father in Him." The Father can be in no other Human than that which is from Himself, and thus His own Divine Human.


From first creation He was in a Human, and in a Human from Himself; namely, in the universal heaven, which in the complex constitutes one Man; but this was not His own proper [Human], because it was in the angels of heaven; but in the Divine Human He is in his own, that is proper to Himself.


That men do not comprehend that the Creator of the universe can be in a Human, is for the reason that their conception of the universe is from space, which idea does not reach God unless there be the idea of the proceeding Divine; nor should the idea of the proceeding Divine in the spiritual world be taken from space, but in the natural world only. Of the Divine from which is the universe, an idea is to be conceived in no other way than as of the Divine Man in firsts, who is life itself, and whose Divine love appears as a sun above the heavens, whence all things are.


The Lord means His own Divine by "Father"; this, therefore, assumed the Human; wherefore it is as His soul in the body; for "the Father" cannot be understood to have been a first Person, since so there would have been two Fathers. The Divine cannot be in any other body than its own; thus it must be Divine.


That heaven was endangered by conjunction with the hells in its disordered ultimates, may be illustrated by the extreme prostration of a man, from which at last he dies; and that thus no one could have been saved if the Lord had not come into the world, is illustrated in Apocalypse Explained (n. 744); in which work it is also shown that the more distinct the separation of heaven and hell, the more perfect is the state of heaven (n. 746).


(Let those things be adduced which have been gathered from the spiritual world concerning the faith of the Mohammedans respecting three Persons, and concerning Christ, n. . . . not yet transcribed, being not yet reached, n. 5992 [? Spiritual Experiences, n. 5952].)


Christians were examined, to ascertain what kind of an idea they have concerning three Persons of the Divinity. It was found that they have various ideas; some placing one near another in consultation, and the third as sent forth from these; some, as conversing together, and Christ interceding; some place them in successive order, and some in other ways; but because these are three Gods, at the presence of Mohammedans and of Gentiles, who see their ideas, they are ashamed and are on their guard.


Let all the representatives concerning the Lord that are found in the Gospels, be taken up: that He was laid in a manger, because there was no room in the inn; that He was a carpenter's son; that He chose twelve disciples; then all things pertaining to His passion, His garments, and other things besides.


He was called a Prophet (Deut. 18:15, 18, and also in the Gospels), because "a prophet" signifies the Word, and doctrine from the Word.


Let it be explained what is meant by "proceeding," when said concerning the Holy Spirit; that it is like the light and heat from the sun; but that the opinion of the multitude is that the Holy Spirit hears and goes forth as a person from a person.


There are paradoxes in the Creed of Athanasius, and consequently the opinions of the multitudes are various; to the understanding of which the understanding must be constantly kept under faith; but from the heavenly doctrine, according to which that paradox is to be explained, not anything of the understanding is to be kept under faith.


Concerning the Divine Human from eternity; and that it was of the Father's love to become Man even to ultimates, which could be done only by being born of a virgin.


The Lord in the world was the Divine truth; but so long as He was in the human from the mother, he was not life in Itself, as to the human; but afterwards, when he had put off4 that human, he was life from himself.


(Let it be explained what is life of Itself, and what is life not of Itself; that he was Life of Itself, from the Divine which was His soul, and which was inwardly in the human from the mother. Life of Itself is pure love, the Divine Itself; life not of itself is a form recipient of life. Let this be illustrated by other things, etc.)


The Divine truth is the Christ; the proceeding Divine good is Jesus; the Divine Human is the Son of God; the proceeding Divine which is the Word is the Son of Man.


The separation of the Human of the Lord from the Divine was made in the Council of Nice, for the sake of the Pope - that he might not be called God on earth.


Let facts be presented concerning the Council of Nice, who were present of the papal party; that unless the words "that He is perfect Man" had been accepted, the Pope could not have been acknowledged as His vicar. But these things also were not solely for the Pope. He would otherwise be acknowledged as God of heaven and God of earth, if he had taken upon himself the Divine, when nevertheless it is actually Divine to save men, to create them anew, to impart heaven to them, to lead them from infancy even to the last moments of life and afterward forever. But because they who protested also saw contradictions in the Council, therefore they admitted the things that follow [in the Creed], to which, however, few of the Protestants of the present day give any attention; wherefore they believe with the Papists that the Human is not Divine; hence [they place] the Divine above the Human, near to the Father.


From the Creed of Athanasius it is allowable to say that three Gods are one God by unition; that there are three, is of the thought; that they are one is of the speech. May one be prohibited from speaking thus? What would be the feeling of Mohammedans, of Jews, of Gentiles, at such an expression? Would they not say, "They are insane"?


Let the signification of His bearing the iniquities of all, be illustrated by the case of the Prophets, who represented the quality of the church; let it also be told what is signified by His having been laid in a manger, because there was no room in the inn, etc., etc., etc.


(Let it be illustrated in many ways how the Lord through temptations subjugated the hells, and glorified the Human from the state of spirits in temptations from the hells; and other things from personal experience.)


That the Divine Human was from eternity, is also meant by its being said that the Word, which in the beginning was with God, became flesh; and this because it was from the Divine love; the Lord also, conceived of Jehovah, was the Divine truth in the world.


Concerning the three Persons: that specific properties distinguished them; and if this were not so, they would not be three Persons but one . . . moreover they are conjoined into one metaphysical God; also concerning Trinity in Unity, and Unity in Trinity; these things by no means fall within the idea of the common nor of the learned man. It therefore necessarily follows, that three Gods are thought of.


Man has an idea, when it is said that the second Person descended and assumed the Human; not, however, when it is said that the first Person did so; and yet they are altogether equal. Let examination thereof be made to ascertain whether a finite idea will not be held concerning the second Person, and not a truly infinite idea, as of the Father; also that concerning the Father there will be held the infinite idea as of the universe; and that this in the idea is that it is impossible, but that the other is possible. From this idea a conclusion may be drawn as to the quality of the idea concerning the Lord as God, also that therefore He is not approached.


It may be said that it is contrary to perception that the Divine which is the Father took on the Human, but not that the Divine which is the Son, did so; when nevertheless it is the same thing, both because the one Divine is equal to the other, and because they are one as to substance; so that this also ought not to be separated, since thus three Divines as to Persons which are one as to substance, assumed the Human; otherwise they would be separated, and one would be the soul in the Human, and not another.


And thus, also, one saved the human race, and not the other; that is, to one would belong the work of redemption, and not to the other; for the Lord wrought redemption from the Human.


And besides, it is believed that His soul was from the Divine which is called the Father, from the common faith.


Besides, there is a common idea that the Divine which is the Father did not take on the Human, because this Divine fills the whole world. But the idea of space ought not to come into the matter; because God, regarded in Himself, is Man (as will be shown). The case would be the same if the Divine which is called the Son took the Human, for this Divine is like the Divine which is called the Father; for it is not denied that the Lord's Divine assumed the Human; nor can the idea of extension into the universe be held in respect to this Divine any more than concerning the Divine of the Father.


The extension of the Divine into the universe is what can be predicated of the proceeding Divine, which is the Divine truth and is called the Word. Through this were all things made which were made, and the world was created from it, according to the words in John (chap. 1). But an idea is to be held concerning the Divine Itself - the idea as of man whose Divine love appears as a sun, and the light from which is Divine truth, and the heat Divine good. But still the idea of extension is fitting only for the natural world, but not in the spiritual world; in the spiritual world extension, like space and distance, is but an appearance. (Concerning which, see Heaven and Hell, in the chapter concerning space.)


When the Lord was transformed and seen in glory, a voice out of the cloud said, "This is My beloved Son." It was His Human which was transformed and seen in glory; and this was the Son of God (Matt. 17 and other places).


The essential of the doctrine of the New Church which is called the New Jerusalem, is this concerning the Lord; and he who wishes to be therein, acknowledges it; for this church is the very Christian church; and no one is admitted therein but he who thinks of, and believes in, one God, and thus the Lord alone. It is to be known that one is admitted into heaven in accordance with his confession of God; he is explored as to the quality of his thought and faith concerning God; for through that confession is conjunction; and when there is conjunction, there is enlightenment in particulars. All of love and of faith is dependent thereon; they, therefore, who deny God are in hell, because there is disjunction. The first and primary thing, therefore, is to know and acknowledge, believe in, and love God; all other things depend on this.


Anointing, spoken of in the Old Testament, was representative of the Lord; wherefore He is called "the Messiah," and "the Christ," meaning "the Anointed," for the reason that in Him was the Divine good of the Divine love. By the oil with which kings were anointed, is signified the good of love.


By "the Son of God" is signified the Divine truth, because by "sons" in the Word are signified truths; "the Son of God" therefore means the Divine truth. Hence by "the Son of God from eternity" is meant the proceeding Divine which is called the Divine truth, and from which is heaven; and hence, likewise, the Lord in the world was the Divine truth, which afterwards proceeded from Him. Thence it is that they are called "sons of God" who are recipients of the Divine truth.


The Lord was conceived of the Divine Itself, and was afterwards born of that; for what was born of Mary, this the Lord from His own Divine expelled; thence He assumed a Human corresponding to the Divine; thus He united the Divine, which means that the Divine took to Itself the Human. Hence it is that He was not only conceived but was also born of Jehovah, according to what is written in Psalm 2:1, 2, 6. It is also said: I will tell the decree; Jehovah hath said unto Me, Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee (Ps. 2:7); and hence it is that He is the Son of God.

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