Importance of a Just Idea of God
The idea of God enters into all things of the Church, of religion, and of worship. Not only do theological subjects reside above all [others] in the human mind, but supreme therein is the idea of God. If this therefore be false all things which follow derive from the beginning whence they flow, that they are false, or falsified. For the supreme, which also is the inmost, constitutes the very essence of the sequences; and the essence, as a soul, forms them into a body after its own image; and when in its descent it lights upon truths, it infects them also with its own blemish and error.
Upon a just idea of God the universal heaven and the Church universal on earth, and in general the whole of religion, are founded; for through this there is conjunction, and through conjunction light, wisdom, and eternal happiness.
Of how great importance it is to have a just idea of God may appear from the consideration, that the idea of God forms the inmost of thought with all who have any religion; for all things of religion and all things of worship have relation to God; and as God is in all things of religion and of worship universally and particularly, therefore unless there be a just idea of God there cannot be any communication with the heavens: Hence it is that in the spiritual world every nation is assigned a place according to its conception of God as a Man; for in this, and in no other, there is an idea of the Lord. That man's state of life after death is according to the idea of God confirmed within him clearly appears from its opposite, that the denial of God constitutes hell,—and in Christendom, the denial of the Lord's Divinity.
God is One
All the principles of human reason unite and as it were concentre in this, that there is one God, the Creator of the universe. A man who has reason, therefore, from a common attribute of his understanding, does not and cannot think otherwise. Say to any one of sound reason that there are two Creators of the universe, and you will find an aversion to you on account of it—and perhaps from the bare sound of the words in the ear. It is evident from this that all the principles of human reason unite and as it were concentre in the idea that God is one. There are two reasons why this is so. First, because the very faculty of thinking rationally, in itself considered, is not man's but is God's in him; upon that faculty human reason, as to the common attribute, depends; and this common attribute causes it to see this, as of itself. Second, because by means of that faculty man either is in the light of heaven, or derives thence the common principle of his thought; and the universal principle of the light of heaven is, that God is one. It is otherwise if by that faculty a man has perverted the lower principles of the understanding; he, it is true, has ability by that faculty, but through the intorsion of the lower principles, he turns it in another direction, whereby his reason becomes unsound.
Who that has sound reason does not perceive that the Divine is not divisible, and that there is not a plurality of Infinite, Uncreate, Omnipotent beings,—and thus, Gods? If another, who has no reason, shall say that several Infinite, Uncreate, Omnipotent beings—therefore Gods,—are possible, if. only they have one and the same essence; and that through this there is one Infinite, Uncreate, Omnipotent being and God:—Is not one and the same essence, the same one? and the same one cannot be several. If it shall be said that one is from the other:—Then he that is from the other is not God in himself; and yet God, from whom all things ark is God in Himself.
He who in faith acknowledges and in heart worships one God is in the communion of saints on earth, and in the communion of angels in the heavens. They are called communions, and are so, because they are in one God and one God is in them. They are also in conjunction with the whole angelic heaven, and I might venture to affirm with all and each of the angels there; for they all are as the children and descendants of one father, whose minds, manners, and faces are resemblant, so that they mutually recognize each other. The angelic heaven is harmoniously arranged in societies, according to all the varieties of the love of good; which varieties all tend to one most universal love, which is love to God. From this love they who in faith acknowledge and in heart worship one God, the Creator of the universe, and at the same time the Redeemer and Regenerator, are all propagated.
God is very Man
In all the heavens there is no other idea of God than of a Man. The reason is, that heaven is a Man in form, in whole and in part, and the Divine which is with the angels constitutes heaven, and thought proceeds according to the form of heaven. It is therefore impossible for the angels to think otherwise of God. Hence it is that all those in the world who are in conjunction with heaven think of God in like manner, when they think interiorly within themselves, or in their spirit. It is from the fact that God is Man that all angels and all spirits are men in perfect form. The form of heaven effects this, which in its greatest and in its least parts is like itself. It is known from Gen. i. 26, 27, that men were created after the image and likeness of God; and also that God was seen as a Man by Abraham and others.
If any one thinks of the very Divine without the idea of a Divine Man, he thinks indeterminately,—and an indeterminate idea is no idea,— or he forms a conception of the Divine from the visible universe without end, or with an end in darkness, which conception conjoins itself with that of the worshippers of nature,— even falls into nature, and so becomes no conception. [of God]. It is evident that thence there would be no conjunction with the Divine, by faith nor by love. All conjunction requires an object; and the conjunction is according to the character of the object. Hence it is that the Lord as to the Divine Human is called the Mediator, and the Intercessor; but He mediates and intercedes with Himself. It is evident from the Lord's words in John that the very Divine cannot by any conception be apprehended:—"No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath manifested Him" ; and again, "Ye have neither heard the Father's voice at any time, nor seen His shape". Yet, which is remarkable, all who think of God from themselves, or from the flesh, think of Him indeterminately, that is, without any definite idea; but those who think of God not from themselves, nor from the flesh, but from the spirit, think of Him determinately; that is, they present to themselves a conception of the Divine under the human form. The angels in heaven thus think of the Divine; and thus the wise Ancients thought, to whom when the very Divine appeared He appeared as a Divine Man.