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How the Lord Governed the Universe
While on Earth

by D.T.

Ö"If Jesus was God the Creator appearing on earth in a human form, then how was the universe governed while He was on earth with the mind of a child?" Now, that's a most important question, and it deserves to be treated seriously. The answer can be stated briefly in this way: that the universe was governed by His Divine soul, which was within, and which had always governed the universe. But that answer will not convey very much to us until we understand what is meant by the term, "the soul." What do we mean by the Divine soul?

First, let's see what the soul is with man. Then, perhaps, we will be able to form some ideas of the Divine soul. Of course, the word, soul, is used to mean many things. But what is strictly called the soul in this context is that receptacle of life that we all have - good and evil alike. Every human being without exception has an inmost spiritual vessel receiving life from the Lord. That inmost vessel is called the soul. It's the first thing in us that is acted upon by the Lord and receives life from Him. But note: it's nothing physical; it's not to be confused with anything of the body; it's made of spiritual substance; and it's a spiritual organ or vessel receiving life from the Lord. Without it, nobody could live.

But the Divine soul - God's soul - is life itself. It's not a receptacle of life. It's life itself, the source of all life.

But as far as man is concerned, what does his human soul do for him? Well, as we've already seen, it's the part of us that first of all receives life from the Lord. The soul also directs the formation of the body in the womb of the mother. The operation of the soul is that mysterious force that directs the whole process so that cells subdivide in just the right way, according to the Divine order. Life from the Divine Being flows in and is received first of all by the soul, which channels it in order to perform various uses throughout the body. All our involuntary or automatic functions, such as our reflexes - those things in our body that work quite apart from our mind, our thinking and willing - are all directed by the soul. You see, the soul acts into and upon the rear-brain, which is technically known as the cerebellum, and through that it exercises control over all the automatic or involuntary, unconscious functions of the body.

Now, this happens with even a newborn babe, who has very little mind or consciousness at all, and it goes on through life no matter what stage of development our mind is in or what state it is in. The state of the mind has no bearing whatsoever upon the soul and its work; the soul in this context being defined, as I've said, as the organ or receptacle that first receives the inflow of life from the Lord.

For example, you know how it is if you scratch your hand. Provided that scratch is kept clean, it will just heal automatically. It's not the body, of course, that heals itself. The body, in itself, is just flesh. It's the action of the soul - a spiritual organism, a finite receptacle of life; it's the soul that channels life from the Lord and automatically does the healing without any help from our mind. In our mind we can wish as hard as we like that the healing be speeded up, but it makes no difference: this because the workings of the soul are above our conscious awareness. In the example we are considering, the soul marshals instinctively the forces of the body that are necessary to heal the scratch and restore order in the body.

Now let me repeat: this kind of intuitive working of the soul goes on no matter what we are thinking. It goes on even when we are not thinking at all, when we are asleep. The state of our mind has nothing at all to do with it.

Another example would be the process of growth. This is another involuntary process of the body that goes on quite apart from the thinking and willing of our mind. This is why the Lord Himself said: "Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?"

Now, it's the same with the Divine soul - except that it is not a receptacle of life but life itself. Just as our own individual soul governs the involuntary functions of our body, so the Divine soul governed not only the body that it had created for itself but also the whole universe. It always had governed the universe. In fact, this Divine soul, or what is the same, this Divine Being, had created the whole universe. From infinite love and wisdom the Divine soul (or the Divine Being) - known as Jehovah God - provided what was needed in the whole universe, intuitively sensing what was needed to maintain everything in a state of order, just as our soul, on a finite scale, intuitively provides for the needs of the body.

Now when the Divine soul, the Divine in itself, needed to be more closely and personally present with mankind on the physical plane, He created a human body for Himself by means of the Virgin Mary. But the fact that that human part was, in the beginning, merely human and finite or limited, the fact that it began life with only the rudiments of a mind as does every newborn babe, in no way prevented the Divine soul from continuing to operate as it always had done, and so rule the universe. Even when the Lord's human mind was barely conscious, even when it was asleep, the Divine soul continued to govern the universe. After all, we are assured in the Old Testament that "He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep." Incidentally, it's the same with our soul, isn't it? It governs our body even while we are asleep. Our soul neither slumbers nor sleeps. It is a finite image of the Divine soul.

Now it's interesting to note that the human part that the Lord made for Himself was known as Jesus. This was the Divinely revealed name; and it means, most significantly, "Jehovah saves." That expresses a great truth, doesn't it? As we've seen in previous talks, in the Old Testament it is said that Jehovah is the only Savior. You'll find that particularly in the book of the prophet Isaiah. But in the New Testament Jesus is called the Savior. We can only reconcile these two groups of passages by supposing, as we've seen, that Jesus is Jehovah in the human form, come on earth to save us from the hells; not to save us from the consequences of our sins, but to save us from the influence of the hells, and so save us from sinning. He saved us by putting on a frail human nature which could attract the hells so that from the Divine within He could fight against and subdue the hells; which, as we know, He finally did. This was the way the Creator of the universe became the Savior and Redeemer. It is one of the greatest and most fundamental errors of the Christian Church that it has taught that God the Creator and the Lord the Redeemer are two separate persons, when, in fact, they are one and the same - the one and only God of heaven and earth.

Now this explanation that you have been listening to this evening, derived from what has been revealed by the Lord through Swedenborg, not only answers the question that was raised, but it also explains something I mentioned briefly last time - i.e., why the Lord on earth had, so to speak, two states of mind, a kind of dual consciousness. You see, when the influence of the merely human body was predominant, He had one state of mind; but when the influence from the Divine soul predominated, then He had a more exalted state of mind.

When the body prevailed, the Lord seemed to be separated from the Divine soul within, which He called in the New Testament "the Father."

At times like these the Lord was described as praying to the Father as if to someone outside of Himself. These were times when He was in temptations, when His human part was rebelling against His Divine part. The effect of this was that there seemed to be two persons in Him; just as with us, when we are in states of temptation, there seem to be two forces contending for the mastery of our minds.

But, on the other hand, when the Divine soul predominated, then He did His Divine miracles, and said things like this: "I and the Father are one." He spoke as one having authority, and not as the scribes. He spoke from the Divine, and He did this more and more often until this more exalted state began to predominate. It kept on predominating until finally His human part also had become completely Divine. He was then Divine from first to last. This is why, in the book of Revelation, He describes Himself as the First and the Last. There was complete unity or peace between the Divine and the Human in Him, so that He was the Prince of Peace and could communicate peace to His disciples.

To sum up, then: from His birth throughout His life on earth right up to the resurrection, the Lord (that is, Jesus) was completely God only as far as His soul was concerned. Only His soul was fully Divine, the Divine. But after the resurrection He was and is God as to both His soul and His body. From this we can see the answer to a question that was put to me recently as to why Jesus said, in Matthew chapter 19: "Why callest thou Me good; there is none good but one, that is God." You see, we have to remember just when this was said. This was said at an early stage in His ministry; so, obviously, He could not allow His human part to be called "good." At that stage goodness, Divine goodness, could be fully attributed only to His Divine part. Later on, however, when even His human part had been made Divine, then it was in order for Him to be called good. He said that all power was given unto Him in heaven and on earth, that is, that He was the Almighty. And He did not rebuke doubting Thomas when he called Him "My Lord and my God."

After all, Thomas had spoken a great truth. Jesus is Lord and God. But let's face up to what follows from this: that if He is Lord and God, there can be no other Lord, no other God, can there? The moment we say there is some other Lord or God who is not Jesus, in that moment we are saying that there are more gods than one. We are getting into polytheism - the worship of many gods.

The teaching of the New Testament is that there is one God in one Divine person, and that He is the Lord Jesus Christ. The Father, meaning His Divine soul, is within Him, and His Holy Spirit or Divine influence goes forth from Him. It is completely true that "in Jesus Christ dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead (that is, the whole of the Divinity,) in bodily form."

The Lord Jesus Christ is therefore the God we worship and pray to in the Church of the New Jerusalem.

-New Church Life 1971;91:562-566

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