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Existere,—Divinity and Humanity. The Esse or Divinity is the invisible and incomprehensible; the Existere or Humanity is the visible and comprehensible, and as all creation bears, more or less perfectly, the image of the Creator; man, and therefore heaven and the Church, have a visible and an invisible part, or an esse and existere also.
This distinction in the Divine not only accounts for the fact, but explains the mode, of the visible and invisible in every finite object. Every one who has entered intellectually into the subject knows that Esse means the inmost principle of the Deity, and derivatively and simply of whatever He has created, and that Existere means the outward principle which the inmost produces from, and by which it manifests, itself. Esse means literally to be, and the existere means literally to exist. Unfortunately these English words, which are the nearest equivalents of the original ones, have nearly the same signification, and do not convey an exact idea of the distinction which our author employs the two Latin words to express. Esse means to be, and this expresses accurately enough the simple idea of being ; but existere literally means to rise, to spring, to appear, be seen; and the idea which Swedenborg employs it to express is not merely that of existing, but of coming into existence.
"Of the Lord is principally predicated esse and existere, for He alone iś and EXISTS. As to what further concerns esse and existere, it appears as if they were nearly the same thing, but they are not so; every person and every thing has esse from conception, but its existere from birth, consequently, as conception is prior to birth, so is esse prior to existere: the soul is the very esse of man, but the sensitive or corporeal principle is his existere, for the former exists in the latter; celestial and spiritual love is the very esse of the regenerate man, but the rational and sensitive principle, when it is influenced by that love, is his existere; the case is thus with all and each of the things in the universe, for there is nothing given, which has not its conception in order that it may be, and its birth in order that it may exist; which may also be illustrated by this consideration (but this is for the learned), that every effect has its cause, and every cause has its end, and the end is the esse of the cause, and the cause is the existere of the end ; in like manner the cause is the esse of the effect, but the effect is the existere of the cause.” (A. C. 2621).
The distinction between esse and existere is like that of essence and form. The essence is the invisible part, and the form is the visible part, of the same being or thing: but the form is from the essence, and is that by which it comes into, manifests existence. These two parts may be distinguished, but they cannot be separated. There can be no esse without an existere, no essence without a form, therefore no invisible without a visible. If we speak of an essence without a form, what is it the essence of? if we speak of a form without an essence, what is it the form of? As there can be no essence without a form, and no form without its essence, there can be no invisible church without a visible, no visible church without an invisible.
Man is the church in its least form. The invisible church in him consists of the principles of love and faith, as they exist in his will and understanding; and the visible church in him consists of the principles of love and faith, as they are manifested in his words and actions. These two things that make up the church may also be called internal and external worship. If we believe in God and love Him, we will worship Him, both with the invisible worship of humility and gratitude in our hearts, and with the visible worship of prayer and praise with our lips and in our lives. These two parts of the church, or of religion, cannot exist separately,—one cannot exist without the other. There may be a seeming separation between them. There may be outward worship and order without any corresponding inward humility and love. But this arises from hypocrisy or superstition; and such worship is not living but dead. It is the form of godliness, but without the power. It has what may be called an essence, but its essence is not the love and worship of God, but the love and worship of self. So far as regards the worshipper, there is neither the essence nor the form of the Church, neither its invisible nor its visible element: for that visible which does not spring from the invisible, as an existere from its esse, is not anything, but an appearance. It is something put on, not put forth; and having no vital principle, it is but as a dead body galvanized, which puts on a semblance of life so long as the artificial stimulant actuates it.
We must not, however, run into the extravagant error of supposing that it is useless and even wrong, as being mechanical, to engage in external worship, as a form which has been trained and prescribed for us by others; but that one must wait till we are spontaneously moved by a constraining power from within. Those who wait, but are never moved, show that they have not an inward principle to move or constrain them. But it is necessary for us sometimes to constrain ourselves, even to do what is right, as well as to avoid what is wrong. And if, in doing so, we act from a sense of duty, we act from an inward principle—an invisible principle desiring to clothe itself with a form that will make it visible. Self-constraint, when the motive is good, is the internal constraining the external. There could be no self-constraint if there were not a power to constrain, and a power to be constrained. Therefore self-constraint is one of the truest signs and one of the noblest acts
of our humanity. The animal is destitute of it. In putting on “the garment of praise," whether we are constrained by duty or prompted by love, we do but clothe with a becoming vesture the naked piety of the mind, that we may worship the Lord in “the beauty of holiness.”
I have thus far considered the subject in its particular aspect, as the best means of acquiring a clear general view. For as Swedenborg observes
"If a man in particular were not a church, there would be no church in general. A congregation in general is what is coinmonly called a church; but to constitute a church it is necessary that every individual of the congregation be a church, for every general implies parts similar to itself” (4292). Man, as he also remarks, is a church, a heaven, and a kingdom of the Lord in miniature. If, then, we understand the distinction between the visible and the invisible church, as it is in man, we shall readily understand it as it is in the world.
In the Lord's sight, the church is as a single man. In the widest sense, this man includes both the church on earth and the church in heaven; and of this Grand Man the church on earth is the body, and the church in heaven is the soul—the visible and invisible parts. It is the church on earth that we are to consider. And we are to make the same distinction here: for it is the heavenly or spiritual element in the church that forms the invisible church, and the earthly or natural element that forms the visible church.
The visible church consists of those who form the church as an outward and invisible communion—who possess the Word, and know the Lord, and worship Him, and have the sacraments. The body of people who form the church, as it appears in the sight of men, is thus the visible church. It is the household of faith. It has its confession of faith, its laws of life, its rules of membership; it has its ecclesiastical constitution; its ministers, its temples, its preachings, its ordinances: the whole machinery, in short, which is needed for the religious edification of those within its pale, and for extending the knowledge of the truth to those who are beyond it. In the number of those who form this outward and visible body of the church there are some, and there may be many, who, though members of the church as it appears in the sight of men, are not members of the church as it appears in the sight of God. All those, and only those, who are in the church are members of it in the sight of men ;-but all those, and only those in whom the church is, are members of it in the Lord's sight. No man can tell certainly or positively who these are. They are members of the invisible church. The Lord alone, who trieth the hearts and the reins, knows with the knowledge of sight and certainty who are his elect, His saints in the earth.
The invisible Church consists not of those only within the visible Church in whom the Church is, but of all throughout the world who have the essential elements of the Church in them. If a man is principled in love and charity, he is a member of the visible Church, whether he be among christians or heathens, whether he reads the Bible, or the Koran, or the Vedas. The noble testimony of Peter, in relation to Cornelius, expresses a great and blessed doctrine. “ Of a truth I perceive that God is, no respecter of persons: but in every nation he that feareth Him and worketh righteousness is accepted of Him.” What was, by the Lord's providence, done for Cornelius in this world, is done for every God-fearing and righteous heathen in the next world—if not in this. He realizes the divine promise “To him that hath shall be given.” He that hath good in this world shall receive truth in the next. To his charity shall be added faith, so that he may enter into the marriage, by the union of goodness and truth being effected in him.
The truth which was proclaimed by the first apostolic missionary of the first Christian Church, has been repeated with still greater amplitude and emphasis by the apostle of the Church of the second advent.
“All,” he says, “wheresoever they may be, who live in good and acknowledge one God, are accepted by the Lord, and come into heaven” (A. C. 2589).
And he gives us a reason for this, that - All who are in good acknowledge the Lord, for good is from the Lord, and the Lord is in good” (ib.). "Those who are without the Church, and still acknow. ledge one God, and live according to their religion in a certain charity to their neighbour, are in communion with those who are of the Church, for no one who believes in God and lives well is damned. Hence it is evident that the Church of the Lord is everywhere in the universal globe, although it is specifically where the Lord is acknowledged, and where the Word is " (H. D. 244).
And not only are such in communion with the Church, they are also in communion with heaven. For " Whosoever acknowledges one God in faith, and worships Him in heart, is in the communion of saints on earth, and in the communion of angels in heaven. These two orders—of saints and angels—are called communions, and in reality are so, since they are in one God, and one God is in them. Whosoever also is in these communions, is in conjunction with the whole angelic heaven, and I will venture to say, with all and every particular angel therein ; because they are all as the children and offspring of one father, whose minds, manners, and countenances bear such a resemblance, that they mutually recognise each other” (T. C. R. 15).
The unity which had its centre in God is extended to all who acknowledge Him in His unity. Hence it is that “ The universal heaven represents one man, and the societies there represent his
members. This order is also on earth, but the societies which constitute it are scattered through the whole earth, and consist of those who are principled in love to Him and in charity towards the neighbour ; but these scattered societies are collected by the Lord, that they may represent one man, as the societies in heaven. These societies are not only within the Church, but out of it, and taken together are called the Lord's Church scattered and collected from the whole earth, which is also called a communion. This communion or church is the Lord's kingdom in the earth conjoined to the Lord's kingdom in heaven, and thus to the Lord himself” (A. C. 7396).
Such then is the invisible church of the Lord : those of all nations and of all religions, who live according to the light they possess, are members of the Lord's mystical body: and these are seen as such by the Omniscient alone.
But in order that the invisible church may exist, there must needs be a visible church.
The knowledge of the one God, which forms the corner stone of the temple among the nations, they inherit from a former Revelation. But even this is not enough to preserve the knowledge of God amongst them, and their connection with heaven. A visible church, possessing an immediate Revelation from the Lord, must exist in the world, as a centre from which light may be propagated to those beyond its pale, and by which the connection of the world with heaven may be preserved. The visible church is the sacred spot on which rests the ladder, whose base is on earth and whose top reaches to heaven, above which is God, and on which the angels of God ascend and descend : and which is none other than the House of God and the Gate of Heaven. It is the place where the Word in ultimates rests,—that Word which connects heaven and earth, and God and men ; and is the sacred channel through which life is for ever flowing, and not only flowing as a stream from its infinite Source, but performing that circle, which has its end as well as its beginning in God. In this respect the course of life is like that of the electric current, which not simply passes, with the rapidity of lightning from place to place, but in every message it conveys, moves in a circle, at the same time going and returning
But the function and use of the invisible church, in relation to the whole human race, is explained to us by another simile, which is a nobler and more exact correspondence. Our author tells us that the visible church is as the heart and lungs of the universal church, which is as one man in the Lord's sight. This statement is so often made, and is so well known, that it is needless for me to verify it. But I