Born of Jehovah
by Rev. Alfred Acton II
Today we celebrate the Lord's glorification: the complete fulfillment of the law and the prophets - the final victory over the hells - the institution of a new path to salvation. For with the resurrection the Son born of Mary became one with the Father from whom He had come.
In the Lord the process of glorification is analogous to the process of regeneration with man. As man is first born of natural parents, and then through a life according to the Lord's Word comes to see that the Lord Himself is his only Father, as man is thus reborn or regenerated, so, too, was the Lord born of Mary but at length by combat on earth became glorified - became one with the Father. The teaching is that "He was born of the virgin Mary . . . as another man; but when He was born again, or became Divine, it was from Jehovah who was in Him, and who was Himself as to the very being of life." "He is called the 'son' because the Lord's Divine Human was not only conceived, but was also born of Jehovah." (AC 2798)
Because of this teaching we can view the Lord's life on earth as we view man's life prior to regeneration. As we see man vacillating between different states in his struggles for reformation, so we can see the Lord in two states struggling against the hells even to His final victory and glorification.
But in another sense we can also view the Lord's life on earth as we view the pre-natal period of man's formation. For regeneration is analogous to man's first generation, and with the Lord when He was fully glorified there was a change in the level of His life analogous to the change in man when he passes from the animal-like life of the womb to the human life of the body. Of course, with the Lord this change was from human life to Divine life. When we view the Lord's life in this way the passion of the cross becomes the final birth-pangs which brought forth the Divine Human, the travail of the Father in bringing forth His Son, the Divine Human, which, as we have seen, was born of Him.
While on earth the Lord as it were formed the Human which by death was made Divine. In His infancy the Lord took on the states of mankind by putting on a body from Mary. This body is as it were the womb or vessel in which the Divine Human could be born. The body itself was not Divine but was formed from matter taken out of the world by Mary. It contained an evil inheritance from which the Lord, as any other man, could be tempted. Yet in another sense the body was Divine, for the body was conceived of Jehovah. The soul within this body was Divine. The body was formed for a Divine use.
Now as the soul of man guides the formation of the body in secret, so with the Lord, the Divine or Jehovah which had conceived the body, the soul from the Father, guided the steps of the Lord on earth, in secret, as it brought forth into actual being the Divine Human, the Human which was born of Jehovah. For this reason we are taught that the Lord on earth alternated between two states; a state imposed by the Human from Mary, which was subject to earthly appearances and temptations and which could not openly see the Divine soul, and a state of oneness with the soul which led Him - a state of humiliation and a state of glorification. In the Word the Lord in the state of humiliation is called the Son of Man, and in the state of glorification, the Son of God. The appearances imposed by the merely human died on the cross while the Son of God rose as the glorified Divine Human, the Word made flesh, which now stands forth visibly to mankind in the Lord's New Word.
But what is the human? How could it be made Divine? To answer these questions we must endeavor to see what it is in man that separates him from all other beings created by the Lord. Anything that man has in common with lower forms of life cannot be called truly human. For this reason man's body, although it is organized in a way superior to that of animals, cannot be called human. The body is a vessel receptive of the human, and does the bidding of the human, but in itself the body of man is an animal form; it is not the essential human. Man also has instincts and loves in common with animals. Natural loves which preserve the body, such as hunger and thirst, are held in common by both men and animals. They are not truly human, although as with the body itself they do respond to the bidding of the human, and so can be appropriated by the human and made one with it. For example the love of sex is common to both men and animals. As a natural love it does nothing more than preserve life here on earth. But the love of sex when appropriated to the human becomes conjugial love which unites two as one in the sight of the Lord, and so is a truly human love. As an aside we might note that as man can appropriate animal loves to himself and make them human so the Lord could appropriate human loves to Himself and make them Divine.
If both the body and those loves man has in common with the animals are not truly human, what is the human? Is it perhaps the soul? The soul as such is the first receptacle in man of Divine love. Through the soul pours all inflowing life. But the soul in itself is not free. It is on a plane above the human. Thus the soul is not the human. Of course when man freely chooses the loves pouring upon him from the soul, he then makes these loves his own, and in so doing makes the soul one with his human, yet the human itself is not the soul.
Now if the human is not the soul, and also is not the body or the loves of the body, what is left? What is the human? Obviously all that is left is the mind of man, the mind which is able to receive both the love coming from without from the body, and the loves coming from within from the soul, and from this position of equilibrium to determine, in freedom, which loves shall be appropriated to itself. The mind of man makes the human. But what is it that forms the mind of man? What is it in man that stimulates him even in infancy to form the beginnings of a mind? We can see that man at birth has only the potential of a mind, and that only by life in the world is the mind itself formed. From doctrine we learn that this potential mind consists in two faculties - the faculty of rationality, and the faculty of liberty. In essence these two faculties form the plane on which the mind can be built. But the faculty is not the thing, anymore than the atmosphere of this world which gives man the faculty to see and hear is the eye or the ear. What, then, is the human which can avail itself of these faculties and form for itself the mind? What is the first observable human thing in an infant? We know that love is the life of man and that love constitutes the substance of the spirit. Also, we know that truth constitutes the form of spiritual love. Because of this we should look for a love in man which he does not have in common with animals and at the same time is free, if we wish to find what is truly human. This love, simply stated, is the love of truth. In the infant it takes the form of curiosity, which freely delves into the mysteries of both the natural and the spiritual worlds. In adult life it becomes the rational mind wherein man's destiny is determined.
This love of truth separates man from all other forms of life. It was this love, this human, which the Lord put on by birth in the world. It was this love which by means of man's acceptance of evil, and the appearances of the senses, had become perverted in men to such a degree that it was in danger of complete extinction. It was this love which could be tempted and in man had fallen. It was this love which the Lord by means of life in the world glorified and made Divine. It was this love which on the first day of the week, on Easter Sunday, rose from the grave, now born to the Father, restoring to men the ability to return to Him.
By glorification the Lord once again restored to mankind a path to Him. By glorification the Lord conquered those loves which sought destruction of the human. By glorification the Lord for all time established an ultimate in the natural world which could combat for man against the evil which sought to annihilate him.
Truly it is only in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Divine Human born of Jehovah, only in this name is it that we have life, for only in this name, or the love and worship of this name, do we find the strength which will fight in our behalf against the loves which ever strive to lead us from the love of truth - from that which in us is human.
But we must receive the Lord if we wish His all-powerful aid. We must look to His Word and see Him there speaking to us, mercifully leading us to truly human life. We must as individuals make our hearts pure. We must as individuals become the church. For the church in its least form is an individual.
With this in mind let us turn to the events of the first day of the Lord's resurrection, for here we can see how man, or the church, should receive the now glorified Lord. It is significant that these events took place on the first day of the week. For with the glorification there was a new beginning, a new church. Yet indirectly the mention of the first day of the week also looks back to the crucifixion, for the Lord did rise on the third day after the crucifixion.
The cross, or the sign of the cross, signifies an introduction - a commencement in the life of the church. That life has not yet begun, but is ready to begin. For this reason the sign of the cross is used in baptism, which is introduction into the name of the Lord - introduction into the life of worship in that name; a life of charity from good according to truth. With the Lord the cross signified introduction into the state of full glorification.
It is also significant that Mary Magdalene was the first to approach the sepulchre. The name, Mary, in general signifies the church. Thus Mary, the mother of the Lord, on the cross was called woman and not mother because the church is not the mother of the Divine Human born of Jehovah. But the name Mary, when qualified by the name Magdalene, takes on a new signification - a certain quality in the church rather than the church itself. Magdalene means an inhabitant of the city Magdala, which in its turn means a tower. So the name Mary Magdalene means Mary of the tower. Now this Mary was she from whom the Lord had cast seven devils. (Cf. Luke 8: 2) Thus Mary of the tower was purified by the Lord while He lived on earth. Now a tower in general has two significations the love of self, and the interior truths which protect the life of charity; yet when the love of self is purified these two become one, for the love of self purified is a love of the heavenly proprium received from the Lord and thus is the love which guards interior truth. Mary Magdalene signifies the affection for interior truth.
It was yet dark when Mary Magdalene came to the sepulchre, which, as the place of burial, signifies the place where regeneration commences after the struggles of reformation - the place where the old will dies and the new will is taken on.
As it was dark when Mary approached the sepulchre so is it dark where the Lord first begins our regeneration. Our interior affection for truth cannot at first see the Lord. We can observe the stone of exterior truth rolled away, but sight of the Lord within is beyond us. We believe the Lord has been taken from us and rush to lower forms of truth for aid. So did Mary rush from the sepulchre to the disciples, Peter and John. Our affection for interior truth which will become the church with us must seek rational faith, the spiritual Peter, and the good of love, the spiritual John, in order to approach the life of regeneration.
John and Peter in their turn rushed to the sepulchre, where they saw the clothes lying in the form of the now risen Lord. At once John, who arrived first, could perceive that the Lord had risen. Peter in his turn arrived and entered into the sepulchre, where he found further confirmation of the resurrection when he saw the napkin the Lord's head had been wrapped in still in its place on the stone where the head had rested. Peter likewise believed. Certainly any man taking the body would have disturbed the garments, he would not have left them lying. So it is that we from faith and love can acknowledge in our minds that the Lord is indeed risen.
But Mary stood without weeping. The church is not made in man when his rational alone is regenerated. The lower degrees of the mind must also enter into the life of truth before the church will be whole. Regeneration indeed commences with the rational but must come down into the very sensual for man to enter into true heavenly blessings.
Yet with the regeneration of the rational, which is signified by the belief of Peter and John, the interior affection of truth, Mary, can receive sight of the Lord and then can bring that sight into the lower degrees of human life. So it was that after Peter and John believed, the Lord appeared to Mary and charged her to go and tell the disciples that He would come to them. Then the Lord did indeed appear to them and breathed on them the infilling life of the Holy Spirit. The degree of the mind just below the rational, the imaginative degree, learns from the interior affection of truth what is necessary for it to become one with the rational and go forth into the world now full of life from the Lord.
Yet still the sensual degree of the mind is not regenerated. Truth from the senses is still clouded by appearances. It still doubts. Thomas would not accept the fact that the Lord had risen. At length, however, even this degree of man's mind will receive life from the Lord. When the two higher degrees of the mind are prepared, the Lord can appear to the spiritual Thomas, the appearances of the senses, and give him blessing also.
So we see that the events following the Lord's resurrection describe in detail how the church is formed in man - how man can come into life from the Lord - how man can be regenerated.
Let us acknowledge the risen Lord. Let us cultivate the interior affection of truth which can lead into the life of heaven. Let us accept the Lord in all the degrees of our mind, acknowledging His Divine Human rationally and even sensually; for that Human born of Jehovah stands forth before us in the Lord's Word as truth and love. Let us enter into a life of peace in the name of the Son of God, Jesus Christ our Lord now risen in power and glory.
"These things are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through His name."
-New Church Life 1969;89:145-150