Principles and Plan of Order for the International Government of the Church 
(Circle of Life*)
...Principles of Doctrine and of Order
The point to which the attention of the Council was directed is this, that whereas the end of the Church is to enter and receive in mind and heart the spiritual and celestial things of the Internal Sense of the Word, the basis of the Church, the basis for its entry into those things, is ever in the Sense of the Letter of the Word. The Internal Sense of the Word cannot be entered by man genuinely except on the basis of a life changed and purified by the true things of life seen in the Sense of the Letter of the Word. And if on such a basis of the natural life there has been an entrance into some things of the Internal Sense, yet these interior true things cannot remain genuine in the Church, nor can the Church be given anything further of the Internal Sense, except insofar as those interior true things already seen again descend and are as it were given flesh by being given a natural quality through the calling forth of new truths of life in the Sense of the Letter of the Word which lead to further repentance of life on the part of the men of the Church, to further change and purification of the natural mind of man. In this way the things of the Internal Sense of the Word gradually attain their own plane in the natural mind of man, and that mind is also further prepared for entrance into the Internal Sense of the Word.
In this it is seen that in that Internal Church which is to come into existence for the sake of the salvation of the human race, there is a circle of life and light from the Lord, a circle of Spirit and of Life which the Word in itself is, and into which the Church must come. This circle begins in its visible form with the true which calls men to repentance, to a change and purification of the natural life. It then Leads through the opening of the internal man to the development of the spirit in the reception of the internal true and good things of Doctrine, and from thence it proceeds again downward or outward to the taking on of new and more interior truths of life in the Sense of the Letter of the Word for the further change of the natural mind. Within this circle is the proper life of the Church. In the filling of it lies the regeneration of mankind. In it the Lord Himself is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and He in His Divine Human lives in man and man in Him. In this circle is the daily giving of His Body and Blood, the daily feeding on the Bread and Wine of His Holy Communion.
In this circle, in relation to the common body of the Church, two lines are visible. One is the descending line, the line wherein the truths for the natural mind from the Sense of the Letter of the Word provide a natural quality for the true things of Doctrine and thus prepare man for a further opening of the internal. The other line is the line of ascent into the interior understanding of the Word wherein the Doctrine of the Church is brought into existence. It can be seen that the descending line, looking downwards and outwards to man’s repentance, to the changing of his natural life, involves all things of the priestly function, which is to teach truths out of the Word according to the Doctrine of the Church and thereby lead to the good of life. In this line also lie all things of the external government of the Church, that is, the government of the appearing or visible Church, for this government is the giving and maintaining of external form and order to internal principles, that the life of the Church may ever be in a receptive state in its looking inward to the Lord in His Word. All things of this line have as their object the protection and support of that which is genuine in the natural life and the changing to a new and more interior life. On the other hand the ascending line has as its object the opening of the understanding of the Word, the Doctrine of the Church, in which the internal of life is given. The descending line gives natural form or body to the things of the ascending line, and for this reason wherever there is question of giving natural or appearing form to any development in the visible Church, the function of the priesthood is involved.
From these considerations it was seen that the government of the Church as a visible or natural body lies in the function of the priesthood, even as is taught in the literal sense of the Third Testament, “Prefects over those things with men which are of Heaven, or over ecclesiastical things, are called priests, and their office, the Priesthood.” (N.H.C.D. 314) (In thus returning to this first principle of order for the government of the Church stated in the Letter of the Word, it is here perhaps in order to say on behalf of the existing priests of the Church that in the definition of the priestly line outlined above they see a whole new life for their existence; and that consequently there can be no claiming of the government of the Church to themselves by virtue of the mere fact that they have been priests in the past; rather there can only be the living prayer that they might now enter and worthily perform that function as it is now seen and understood.) In stating that the government of the Church as a visible or natural body lies with the priesthood, it must also be stated that such government has as its ultimate end the entrance by all in the Church into that other most essential line, which by way of differentiation we may call the line of the men* of the Church, through which there is advance on the part of the Church into the understanding of the Word, and from which there arises those internal principles of Doctrine which internally govern all things of the Church.
(Handbook Of The Lord's New Church Which Is Nova Hierosolyma, Page 15 - 18)
*NOTE: The use of the masculine words "men" or "man" is to be understood as referring to all in the Church, male and female alike.
That this is the meaning of the writer(s) is clear from this sentence in the same document:
"In stating that the government of the Church as a visible or natural body lies with the priesthood, it must also be stated that such government has as its ultimate end the entrance by all in the Church into that other most essential line, which by way of differentiation we may call the line of the men of the Church, through which there is advance on the part of the Church into the understanding of the Word, and from which there arises those internal principles of Doctrine which internally govern all things of the Church."*NOTE: Additionally it should be noted, the phrase(s) "men of the Church" (and also "man of the Church") is taken directly from the original Latin of the Third Testament, and It always uses a form of the Latin word "homo", which means both male and female, where the English word(s) "men" (and also "man") is used.
(Circle of Life*)
The Third Testament Applies the Circle of Life
To the Whole Process of Regeneration and Glorification...
*NOTE: The phrase "circle of life" is taken directly from the Third Testament.
Here is one teaching about the "circle of life":
"The process of man's regeneration from a state of external innocence to that of internal innocence, is described, [AC]10021:2. The process of man's regeneration and that of the glorification of the Lord's Human, are described and illustrated by the circle of life with man, [AC]10057."
(Arcana Coelestia Index 18)
Many additional teachings about the "circle of life" in the Third Testament can be seen on the following page:
Teachings about the Circle of Life Taught in the Third Testament - Click to View
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