September 18, 2017

Every Single Expression, Every Single Idea, Every Single Thought

Selection from Divine Providence ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit.  O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh.  A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.  But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.  For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.  (Matthew 12:33-37)
∙ Those who give no thought to the evils in themselves, that is, do not examine themselves and afterwards refrain from evils, must needs be ignorant of what evil is, and must needs love it from enjoyment in it — for he who does not know what evil is loves it, and he who fails to think about it is continually in it. Like a blind man he does not see it.
For it is the thought that sees good and evil, as it is the eye that sees the beautiful and the unbeautiful
∙ and he who so thinks and wills evil as to believe that evil does not appear before God, or that if it does appear it is forgiven, is in evil, since he is thus led to think that he is free from evil. If such abstain from doing evils they do not abstain because these are sins against God, but because they fear the laws or the loss of reputation; and they still do them in their spirit — for it is the spirit of man that thinks and wills — consequently what a man thinks in his spirit in this world, that he does after he leaves this world when he becomes a spirit.

∙ In the spiritual world into which every man comes after death, it is not asked what your belief has been, or what your doctrine has been, but what your life has been, that is, whether it has been such or such; for it is known that as one's life is such is his belief, and even his doctrine; for the life makes doctrine for itself, and belief for itself.
(Divine Providence 101:2-3)

September 16, 2017

From Being Natural — To Become Spiritual

Selection from The Divine Providence ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
Three Things Must Be Considered

It is by means of these two faculties—rationality and liberty—that man is reformed and regenerated by the Lord; and without them he cannot be reformed and regenerated. The Lord teaches that:-
Except a man be born again he cannot see the kingdom of God (John 3: 3, 5, 7).
∙ But very few know what it is to be born again or regenerated, for the reason that it has not been known what love and charity are, nor, therefore, what faith is; for if one does not know what love and charity are, he cannot know what faith is, since charity and faith make one, like good and truth, and like affection which belongs to the will and thought which belongs to the understanding. Respecting this union, see the work on The Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom (n. 427-431); also The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem (n. 13-24); and above (Divine Providence n. 320).

∙ No one can come into the kingdom of God unless he has been born again, for the reason that man by inheritance from his parents is born into evils of every kind, but with an ability to become spiritual by the removal of those evils; and unless he becomes spiritual he cannot come into heaven. From being natural to become spiritual is to be born again or regenerated. But to know how man is regenerated these three things must be considered:
∙ what his first state is, which is a state of damnation
∙ what his second state is, which is a state of reformation
∙ what his third state is, which is a state of regeneration.

∙ Man's first state, which is a state of damnation, every one has by inheritance from his parents; for man is thereby born into the love of self and love of the world, and from these as fountains, into evils of every kind. It is by the enjoyments of these loves that he is led; and these enjoyments cause him not to know that he is in evils; for no enjoyment of a love is felt otherwise than as a good: consequently unless a man is regenerated he knows no otherwise than that to love himself and the world above all things is goodness itself; and to rule over all, and to possess the wealth of all, is the highest good. Moreover, this is the source of all evil; for a man then from love looks to no one but himself; or if from love he looks to another, it is as a devil looks to a devil, or a thief to a thief, when they act together.

∙ Those who, from the enjoyment of these loves confirm in themselves these loves and the evils flowing from them, remain natural and become corporeal-sensual, and in their own thought, which is the thought of their spirit, are insane. Nevertheless, while they remain in the world they are able to speak and act rationally and wisely, because they are men, and in consequence possess rationality and liberty; but even this they do from love of self and the world. After death, when they become spirits, they are incapable of any other enjoyment than that which they had in spirit while in the world; and that enjoyment is the enjoyment of infernal love, which is then turned into what is undelightful, painful, and terrible; and this is what is meant in the Word by torment and hell-fire. All this makes clear that man's first state is a state of damnation, and that those are in it who do not permit themselves to be regenerated.

∙ Man's second state, which is the state of reformation, is that in which he begins to think about heaven with reference to the joy of heaven, and from this about God, who is to him the source of heavenly joy. But at first this thought springs from the enjoyment of love of self, which enjoyment is to him heavenly joy. And as long as the enjoyment of that love reigns, together with the enjoyments of the evils that flow from it, he must needs think that he draws near to heaven by pouring out prayers, listening to preaching, going to the Holy Supper, giving to the poor, helping the needy, spending money on churches, contributing to hospitals, and so on. A man in this state knows no otherwise than that he is saved by mere thought about those things which religion teaches, whether it be what is called faith, or what is called faith and charity. He has no other idea than that he is saved by so thinking, because he gives no thought to the evils that he finds enjoyment in, and as long as their enjoyments remain the evils remain. The enjoyments of evil are from lust for them that continually inspires them, and also when no fear prevents, brings them forth.

∙ So long as evils continue in the lusts of their love, and the consequent enjoyments, there is no faith, charity, piety or worship except in mere externals, which to the world seem real, and yet are not. These may be compared to water issuing from an impure fountain, which no one can drink. Man continues in the first state as long as he thinks from religion about heaven and about God, and yet gives no thought to evils as sins; but he comes into the second state, or the state of reformation, when he begins to think that there is such a thing as sin; and still more when he thinks that this or that is a sin, and when he examines it in himself to some extent, and refrains from willing it.

∙ Man's third state, which is a state of regeneration, takes up and continues the former state. It begins when man refrains from evils as sins, and it progresses as he shuns them, and is perfected as he fights against them; and as he from the Lord conquers them he is regenerated. With one who is regenerated the order of life is reversed; from being natural he becomes spiritual; for when the natural is separated from the spiritual it is contrary to order, while the spiritual is in accordance with order. Consequently the regenerate man acts from charity; and whatever belongs to his charity he makes to be of his faith also. Yet he becomes spiritual only so far as he is in truths; for man is regenerated only by means of truths and a life in accordance with them; for by means of truths he knows what life is, and by means of the life he does the truths, and thus he conjoins good and truth, which is the spiritual marriage in which heaven is.

∙ By means of these two faculties, called rationality and liberty, man is reformed and regenerated, and without them he cannot be reformed and regenerated, for it is by means of rationality that he is able to understand and know what is evil and what is good, and thus what is false and what is true; and it is by means of liberty that he is able to will what he understands and knows. But so long as enjoyment from the love of evil rules he is not able to will freely what is good and true and to make these to be of his reason, and cannot therefore appropriate them to himself. For, as shown above, it is that which a man does from freedom in accordance with reason that is appropriated to him as his; and unless good and truth are appropriated as his, man is not reformed and regenerated. Again, man does not act from an enjoyment of the love of good and truth until the enjoyment from the love of evil and falsity has been removed; for two kinds of enjoyment from love that are opposites are not possible at the same time. Acting from an enjoyment of love is acting from freedom; and since reason favors the love, this is also acting in accordance with reason.

∙ As the evil man as well as the good man has rationality and liberty, so the evil man as well as the good man is able to understand truth and do good; but while the good man is able to do this from freedom in accordance with reason, the evil man not; because the evil man is in the enjoyment of the love of evil, while the good man is in the enjoyment of the love of good. Consequently the truth that the evil man understands and the good that he does are not appropriated to him, while to the good man good and truth are appropriated, and without appropriation as one's own there is no reformation nor regeneration. For in the wicked, evils with falsities are as it were in the center, while goods with truths are in the circumferences; but in the good, goods with truths are in the center and evils with falsities are in the circumferences; and in both cases that which is at the center flows out even to the circumferences, as heat from a central fire, or as cold from a central frigidity. Thus in the evil the goods in the circumferences are defiled by the evils at the center; while in the good, the evils in the circumferences are moderated by the goods at the center. This is why evils do not damn the regenerate man, and goods do not save the unregenerate man.
(The Divine Providence 82 - 86)

September 14, 2017

Knowledges and Truths, Like the Soul are Real — not Abstractions

Selection from Arcana Cœlestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
∙ Knowledges and truths are things no more abstracted from the purest substances of the interior man, that is, of the spirit, than sight is abstracted from its organ the eye, or than hearing is abstracted from its organ the ear.

∙ There are purer substances, and those real, from which knowledges and thoughts come forth into manifest being; and whose variations of form when animated and modified by the influx of life from the Lord, present them to view; while their agreements and harmonies, in succession or simultaneously, affect the mind, and constitute what is called beautiful, pleasant, and delightful.

∙ Spirits themselves equally with men are forms, that is, consist of continuous forms, but of a purer nature, and not visible to the bodily sight. And because these forms or substances are not visible to the bodily eye, man at this day apprehends no otherwise than that knowledges and thoughts are abstract things; hence also comes the insanity of our age — that men do not believe that they have a spirit within them which is to live after the death of the body, when yet this spirit is a substance much more real than the material substance of its body; nay, if you will believe it, the spirit, after being freed from bodily things, is that very purified body which many say they are to have at the time of the Last Judgment, when they believe that they shall first rise again. ... spirits, or what is the same, souls, have a body, see each other as in clear day, discourse together, hear each other, and enjoy much more exquisite sense than while they were in the body or in the world ....
(Arcana Cœlestia 3726:3, 4)

September 13, 2017

Understanding Man's State, Elevation and Approach to the Lord

Selection from Divine Providence ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
∙ From creation man has an ability to be more and more nearly conjoined with the Lord. ...

∙ There are three discrete degrees or degrees of height in man from creation. These three degrees are in every man from birth; and as they are opened, man is in the Lord and the Lord in man. All perfections increase and ascend along with degrees, and according to them. From all this it is clear that from creation man has an ability to be more and more nearly conjoined with the Lord through degrees.

∙ But it is necessary to know fully what degrees are, and that there are two kinds, discrete degrees, that is, degrees of height; and continuous degrees, that is, degrees of breadth, also how they differ; and to know that every man by his creation and consequently by birth has three discrete degrees or degrees of height; also that man comes into the first degree, which is called the natural, when he is born, and may develop this degree in himself continuously until he becomes rational; also that he comes into the second degree, which is called the spiritual degree, if he lives according to the spiritual laws of order, which are Divine truths; and finally that he can come into the third degree, which is called the celestial, if he lives according to celestial laws of order, which are Divine goods.

∙ These degrees the Lord opens in man according to his life, actually in this world, but not perceptibly and sensibly till after he leaves this world; and as they are opened and afterwards perfected man is more and more nearly conjoined with the Lord. This conjunction by continued approach may go on increasing to eternity, and with the angels it does increase to eternity. And yet no angel is able to attain to or to touch upon the first degree of the Lord's love and wisdom, because the Lord is infinite and an angel is finite, and there can be no relation between what is infinite and what is finite.

∙ As no one is able without a knowledge of these degrees to understand the state of man, and the state of his elevation and approach to the Lord, they have been treated of in detail in the work on The Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom (n. 173-281)
(Divine Providence 32)
(emphasis by editor)

September 11, 2017

Heaven is the End in Divine Providence

Selection from Divine Providence ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
∙ Heaven does not consist of any angels created such from the beginning, and hell does not originate from some devil who was created an angel of light and cast down from heaven. Rather, both heaven and hell arise from the human race - heaven from people who are motivated by a love of good and a consequent understanding of truth, and hell from people who are caught up in a love of evil and a consequent understanding of falsity. ...

∙ Now because heaven arises from the human race, and heaven is a dwelling with the Lord to eternity, it follows that the Lord had this as the end in creation; and because it was the end in creation, it is the end in His Divine providence.

∙ The Lord did not create the universe for His own sake, but for the sake of those with whom He would be in heaven. For spiritual love is such that it wishes to give what it has to another, and to the extent this is possible it is in the enjoyment of its being, its peace, and its bliss. Spiritual love derives this characteristic from the Lord's Divine love, which is infinitely of such character.

∙ It follows from this that Divine love, and consequently Divine providence, has as its end a heaven consisting of people who have become or who are becoming angels, to whom it is possible for the Lord to impart all the blessings and felicities connected with love and wisdom, and to impart these from Himself in them. Nor can it be otherwise, because from creation people have in them His image and likeness - His image in them being wisdom, and His likeness in them being love. And the Lord in them is love united to wisdom and wisdom united to love, or to say the same thing, it is goodness united to truth and truth united to goodness.
(Divine Providence 27:1-2)

September 6, 2017

Some Things Respecting the Successive States of Those Who have Confirmed Themselves in Falsities of Doctrine from the Word, and Especially Those Who have done This in Support of Justification by Faith Alone

Selection from True Christian Religion ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

(i.) After death and when they are reviving in spirit, which usually takes place on the third day after the heart has ceased to beat, they seem to themselves to be in a body so like that which they had in the world that they do not know but that they are still living in the former world, yet not in a material body, but in a body that is substantial and that appears to their senses to be material; but it is not.

(ii.) After some days, they see that they are in a world where various societies are formed, which world is called the world of spirits, and is intermediate between heaven and hell. All the societies there, and they are innumerable, are wonderfully arranged in accordance with good and evil natural affections; the societies arranged in accordance with good natural affections communicating with heaven, and those arranged in accordance with evil affections communicating with hell.

(iii.) The novitiate spirit or spiritual man is conducted and transferred into various societies, both good and evil, and is examined as to whether he is affected by what is good and true, and how, or by what is evil and false, and how.

(iv.) If be is affected by what is good and true, he is led away from evil societies, and is led into good societies, and into different ones until he comes into a society that is in correspondence with his natural affection, and there he enjoys the good that corresponds to that affection, and this until he has put off his natural affection and put on a spiritual affection, and then he is raised into heaven. This takes place with those who in the world had lived a life of charity, and thus a life of faith also, which is believing in the Lord and shunning evils as sins.

(v.) But those who have confirmed themselves in falsities by means of reasonings, especially by means of the Word, and so have lived a merely natural and thus an evil life (for evils accompany falsities and adhere to falsities), inasmuch as they are not affected by what is good and true, but by what is evil and false, are led away from good societies and into evil societies and into different ones, until they come into some society corresponding to the lusts of their love.

(vi.) But because these in the world had feigned good affections in externals, although in their internals there were only evil affections or lusts, they are kept by turns in their [good] externals. Those who in the world had presided over communities, are appointed over societies here and there in the world of spirits, either over a whole society or a part according to the extent of the offices they had filled in their former life. But as they have no love for what is true or what is just, and cannot be so far enlightened as to know what is true and just, after a few days they are deposed. I have seen such transferred from one society to another, and official authority everywhere given them, but always taken away after a short time.

(vii.) After frequent dismissals, some from weariness do not wish, and some from fear of losing their reputation do not dare, to seek office any more; and therefore they withdraw and sit in sadness and afterwards are led away into a desert, where there are huts into which they enter, and there some work is given them to do, and as they do it they receive food. If they do not do it, when they become hungry they receive no food and are thus compelled by necessity. The food there is similar to the food in our world, but is from a spiritual origin, and is given from heaven by the Lord to all according to the uses they perform. To the idle none is given because they are useless.

(viii.) After a while they become disgusted with work and leave their huts. If they had been priests they wish to build; and immediately heaps of cut stone, bricks, beams, and boards appear, also piles of reeds and rushes, of clay, lime, and bitumen. When they see these a strong desire to build is kindled in them, and they begin to construct a house, taking now a stone, and then a stick, then a reed and then some mud, and placing one upon the other without order, but to their sight in regular order. But what they build during the day falls down at night; and the next day they gather up the material from the rubbish and build again; and this goes on until they grow tired of building. This takes place from correspondence. The correspondence is that they have heaped up texts from the Word to prove what is false in faith, and their falsities do not otherwise build the church.

(ix.) Afterward from weariness they go away and sit solitary and idle; and as no food is given from heaven to the idle, as before said, they begin to grow hungry, and to think of nothing but how to get food and satisfy their hunger. While they are in this state persons come to them from whom they ask alms; but these say, "Why do you sit here idle? Come home with us, and we will give you work to do and will feed you." Then they rise up gladly and go home with them, and each one is there given his own task, and for doing it he receives food. But since none of those who have confirmed themselves in the falsities of faith are able to do works that have a good use, but are able to do only such works as have an evil use, and are unable to do these faithfully, but only fraudulently and also unwillingly, they abandon their work, caring only to visit, talk, walk about, and sleep. And as they can no longer be induced by their masters to work they are dismissed as useless.

(x.) When they have been dismissed their eyes are opened and they see a road leading to a certain cavern. When they come to it a door is opened and they enter and ask if there is food there; and when told that there is they beg permission to remain there, and they are told that they may, and are introduced and the door is closed behind them. The overseer of the cavern then comes and says to them, "You can go out no more; you see your companions; they all labor, and according to their labor food is given them from heaven; I tell you this, that you may know." Their companions also say to them, "Our overseer knows for what work each one is fitted, and assigns such work to each one daily. The days you do this work, food is given you, and if you do not do it, neither food nor clothing is given. If anyone does harm to another, he is thrown into a corner of the cavern upon a bed made of accursed dust, where he is sorely tortured, and this until the overseer sees in him some sign of repentance, and then he is released and is ordered to do his work."

He is also told that everyone, after his task is done, is permitted to walk about, to talk, and afterward to sleep. And he is conducted further into the cavern where there are harlots, and each one is allowed to select one of these, and to call her his woman; but promiscuous harlotry is forbidden with penalties. Of such caverns, which are nothing but eternal workhouses, hell consists. I was permitted to enter into and see some of them, in order that I might make the facts known. All who were there seemed degraded; not one of them knew who he had been or what his employment had been in the world. But the angel who was with me said to me, "This man was in the world a servant, this a soldier, this a general; this was a priest; this a man of rank, and this a man of wealth, and yet not one of them knows but that they had been, then as now, slaves and boon companions. This is because they had been inwardly alike, although outwardly unlike, and all in the spiritual world are affiliated according to their interiors."

In regard to the hells in general, they consist solely of such caverns and work-houses; but those where satans are differ from those where devils are. Those are called satans who had been in falsities and consequently in evils; and they are called devils who had been in evils and consequently in falsities. Satans in the light of heaven appear livid like corpses, and some black like mummies; but devils in the light of heaven appear dusky and fiery, and some black like soot; while in features and bodily form they are all monstrous. But in their own light, which is like the light of burning charcoal, they do not look like monsters but like men. This is granted to render them capable of association.
(True Christian Religion 281)

August 31, 2017

When the Literal Sense and Spiritual Sense of the Word Appear Opposed

Selections from Arcana Cœlestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
... The reason why they see no such thing, that is, no interior sense, is that the two appear opposite, namely, what is in the internal sense, and what is in the literal sense. But their appearing to be opposite does not prove that they are so, for they wholly correspond; and the reason they appear opposite is that they who see the Word so are in what is opposite.

It is the same in the case of a man who is in opposition within himself, that is, whose external or natural man is in entire disagreement with his internal or spiritual man. Such a man sees that which is of the internal or spiritual man as opposed to himself, when yet in respect to the external or natural man, he himself is in that which is opposed; and if he were not in this, so that his external or natural man yielded obedience to the internal or spiritual man, the two would wholly correspond.

For example:
the man who is in what is opposed believes that in order for him to receive eternal life riches are to be renounced, as well as all the pleasures of the body and of the world, thus the delights of life; such things being supposed to be opposed to spiritual life, whereas in themselves they are not so, but correspond, because they are means to an end, namely, that the internal or spiritual man may enjoy them so as to be able to perform the goods of charity, and also may live content in a healthful body.
The ends alone are what cause the internal man and the external either to be opposed or to correspond.
They are opposed when the riches, pleasures, and delights here spoken of become the ends, for in this case the spiritual and celestial things which are of the internal man are despised and derided, nay, are rejected; but they correspond when such things are not made ends, but means to higher ends, namely, to those things which belong to the life after death, thus to the heavenly kingdom and the Lord Himself. In this case bodily and worldly things appear to the man as scarcely anything in comparison; and when he thinks about them, he values them only as means to ends.
From this it is evident that the things which appear opposed are not opposed in themselves; but they appear so because men are in what is opposed. They who are not in what is opposed, act, speak, and acquire riches, and also enjoy pleasures, similarly as do those who are in what is opposed, insomuch that in the outward appearance they can scarcely be distinguished from each other. The reason is that their ends alone are what distinguish them; or what is the same, their loves; for loves are ends. But although in the outward form, or as to the body, they appear alike, yet in the inward form, or as to the spirit, they are utterly unlike. The spirit of one who is in correspondence — that is, with whom the external man corresponds to the internal — is fair and beautiful, such as is heavenly love in form; but the spirit of one who is in what is opposed — that is, with whom the external man is opposed to the internal — however great may be the outward resemblance to the other, is black and ugly, such as is the love of self and of the world, that is, such as is contempt of others and hatred in form.

The case is the same with a host of things in the Word; that is to say, the things in the literal sense appear opposed to those in the internal sense; when yet they are by no means opposed, but wholly correspond.

For example:
it is frequently said in the Word that Jehovah or the Lord is angry, is wroth, destroys, and casts into hell; when yet He is never angry, and still less does He cast anyone into hell. The former is of the sense of the letter, but the latter is of the internal sense; and these appear opposed, but this is because the man is in what is opposed.
In the same way the Lord appears as a sun to the angels who are in heaven, and thence as vernal warmth, and as light at dawn; but to the infernals He appears as something quite opaque, and thence as wintry cold, and as midnight darkness. Consequently to the angels He appears in love and charity, but to the infernals in hatred and enmity; thus to the latter according to the sense of the letter — that He is angry, is wroth, destroys, and casts into hell; but to the former according to the internal sense — that He is never angry and wroth, and still less destroys and casts into hell; so that when things are being treated of in the Word that are contrary to the Divine, it is inevitable that they should be presented in accordance with the appearance. Moreover it is the Divine which the wicked change into what is diabolical that works in this way; and therefore insofar as they approach the Divine, so far they cast themselves into infernal torments.
The case is the same with the Lord's words in the prayer: "Lead us not into temptation." The sense according to the letter is that He leads into temptation; but the internal sense is that He leads no one into temptation, as is well known:
It was granted me to have a perception of angelic ideas about these words in the Lord's Prayer: "Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil." Temptation and evil were rejected by the nearest good spirits, by a certain idea perceptible within me, and this even until what is purely angelic, namely, Good,, remained, without any idea of temptation and evil; the literal sense thus perishing altogether. In the first rejection innumerable ideas were being formed respecting this Good-how good may come from man's affliction while the affliction still is from the man and his evil, in which there is punishment, and this with a kind of indignation joined with it that it should be thought that temptation and its evil come from any other source, and that anyone should have any thought of evil in thinking of the Lord. These ideas were purified in the degree of their ascent. The ascents were represented by rejections (spoken of also n. 1393), which were made with a rapidity and in a manner that were inexpressible, until they passed into the shade of my thought. They were then in heaven, where there are only ineffable angelic ideas concerning the Lord's good. (Arcana Cœlestia 1875).
The same is true of all other things that belong to the literal sense of the Word.
(Arcana Cœlestia 3425)