April 29, 2015

The Universal Doctrine of Faith

From Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
They who have separated faith from love do not even know what faith is. When thinking of faith, some imagine it to be mere thought, some that it is thought directed toward the Lord, few that it is the doctrine of faith.

But faith is not only a knowledge and acknowledgment of all things that the doctrine of faith comprises, but especially is it an obedience to all things that the doctrine of faith teaches.

The primary point that it teaches, and that which men should obey, is love to the Lord, and love toward the neighbor, for if a man is not in this, he is not in faith. This the Lord teaches so plainly as to leave no doubt concerning it, in Mark:
The foremost of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord; therefore thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the foremost commandment; and the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself; there is none other commandment greater than these (Mark 12:29-31).
In Matthew, the Lord calls the former of these the "first and great commandment" and says that "on these commandments hang all the law and the Prophets" (Matt. 22:37-41). The "law and the Prophets" are the universal doctrine of faith, and the whole Word.
(Arcana Coelestia 36)

April 27, 2015

Sell Whatsoever You Have and Give to the Poor

From Apocalypse Explained ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
...There are spiritual temptations which those undergo who receive genuine charity from the Lord; for such must fight against the evils that are in every man from birth, and some must fight against the falsities that they have imbibed from childhood from masters and preachers respecting faith alone. These falsities and evils are removed by the combats of temptations. This is what is meant by the "cross" in the following passages:
Jesus said, He that doth not take up his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me (Matt. 10:38; Luke 14:27). 
Jesus said to His disciples, If anyone will come after Me let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me (Matt. 16:24; Mark 8:34; Luke 9:23).
In these passages the "cross" means temptations, and "to follow the Lord" means to acknowledge His Divine and to do His commandments. ... The "cross" means temptations because the evils and the falsities therefrom that cling to man from his birth infest and thus torment those who are natural when they are becoming spiritual. And as those evils and their falsities that infest and torment can be dispersed only by temptations, temptations are signified by the "cross." Therefore the Lord says, that "they must deny themselves and take up their cross," that is, that they must reject what is their own, "their cross" meaning what is man's own [proprium], against which he must fight.

Jesus spake to the rich man who asked Him what he should do to inherit eternal life. Jesus said to him, Thou knowest the commandments: Thou shalt not commit adultery; Thou shalt not kill; Thou shalt not steal; Thou shalt not bear false witness; Thou shalt not defraud; Honor thy father and mother. He answered and said unto Him, All these things have I observed from my youth. Jesus looked upon him and loved him; yet He said unto him, One thing thou lackest; go, sell whatsoever thou hast and give to the poor; so shalt thou have treasure in the heavens; and come, follow Me, taking up the cross (Mark 10:17-21).

Here "to follow the Lord and to take up the cross" - to acknowledge the Lord's Divine, and the Lord as the God of heaven and earth; for without that acknowledgment no one can abstain from evils and do good except from self and as meritorious good, for the good that is good in itself and that is not meritorious good is solely from the Lord; consequently he cannot be saved unless the Lord is acknowledged, and it is acknowledged that all good is from Him. And yet before anyone can act from the Lord he must undergo temptations, for the reason that the internal of man, by which he is conjoined with heaven, is opened by means of temptations. And because no one can do the commandments apart from the Lord, therefore the Lord said, "Yet one thing thou lackest; sell all that thou hast and follow Me, taking up the cross;" that is, the Lord must be acknowledged and temptations must be endured. That "he should sell all that he had and give to the poor" signifies in the spiritual sense that he should alienate and cast away from himself what is his own [proprium], thus it has the same signification as "denying oneself" in the passages quoted above; and "to give to the poor" signifies in the spiritual sense to do the works of charity. The Lord said this to him because he was rich; and "riches" signify in the spiritual sense the knowledges of good and truth, and with this man, who was a Jew, the knowledges of evil and falsity, since they were traditions. From this it can be seen that the Lord, here as elsewhere, spake by correspondences.

Again, temptations are signified by the "cup" of which they were to drink:
Jesus said unto James and John, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink the cup that I drink, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They said unto Him, We are able. And Jesus said to them, The cup that I drink ye shall indeed drink, and with the baptism that I am baptized with shall ye be baptized; but to sit on My right hand or on My left is not Mine to give, but for whom it hath been prepared (Mark 10:38-40).
"To drink the cup that the Lord drank" has the same signification that the "cross" has above, namely, to undergo temptations; and "the baptism with which the Lord was baptized" signifies to be regenerated by temptations. But between the cup which the Lord drank and the cup which they are to drink there is the same difference as between the temptations of the Lord and the temptations of men. The temptations of the Lord were most grievous, and against all the hells; for the Lord subjugated all the hells by means of the temptations admitted into Himself; but the temptations of men are against evils and falsities that are from the hells with them, and in these the Lord and not man himself fights, except against certain painful feelings. There is a like difference between the baptism with which the Lord was baptized and the baptism with which men are baptized as there is between glorification and regeneration. By means of temptations the Lord glorified His Human by His own power, but men are regenerated, not by their own power but by the Lord; for "baptism" signifies to be regenerated by temptations, but the Lord's baptism signifies the glorification of His Human by temptations.

(Apocalypse Explained 893:3-5)

April 25, 2015

Spiritual Scenery

Selection from Arcana Coelestia - Emanuel Swedenborg
Concerning Angelic Paradisal Scenes, and Their Dwellings
When man's interior sight is opened, which is the sight of his spirit, the things in the other life appear, which cannot possibly be made visible to the sight of the body. The visions of the prophets were nothing else. In heaven, as has been said, there are continual representations of the Lord and His kingdom; and there are things that are significative; and this to such an extent that nothing exists before the sight of the angels that is not representative and significative. Thence come the representatives and significatives in the Word; for the Word is from the Lord through heaven.

The things presented to view in the world of spirits and in heaven are more than can be told. In this place, as the light is treated of, it is proper to tell of the things that are immediately from the light; such as the atmospheres, the paradisal and rainbow scenes, the palaces and dwellings, which are there so bright and living before the outer sight of spirits and angels, and are at the same time perceived so fully by every sense, that they say that these are real, and those in the world comparatively not real.

As regards the atmospheres in which the blessed live, which are of the light because from that light, they are numberless, and are of beauty and pleasantness so great that they cannot be described. There are diamond-like atmospheres, which glitter in all their least parts, as if they were composed of diamond spherules. There are atmospheres resembling the sparkling of all the precious stones. There are atmospheres as of great pearls translucent from their centers, and shining with the brightest colors. There are atmospheres that flame as from gold, also from silver, and also from diamond-like gold and silver. There are atmospheres of flowers of variegated hue that are in forms most minute and scarcely discernible; such, in endless variety, fill the heaven of infants. There are even atmospheres as of sporting infants, in forms most minute, indiscernible, and perceptible only to an inmost idea; from which the infants receive the idea that all the things around them are alive, and are in the Lord's life; which affects their inmosts with happiness. There are other kinds besides, for the varieties are innumerable, and are also unspeakable.

As regards the paradisal scenes, they are amazing. Paradisal gardens are presented to view of immense extent, consisting of trees of every kind, and of beauty and pleasantness so great as to surpass every idea of thought; and these gardens are presented with such life before the external sight that those who are there not only see them, but perceive every particular much more vividly than the sight of the eye perceives such things on earth. That I might not be in doubt respecting this, I was brought to the region where those are who live a paradisal life, and I saw it; it is in front of and a little above the corner of the right eye. Each and all things there appear in their most beautiful springtime and flower, with a magnificence and variety that are amazing; and they are living, each and all, because they are representatives; for there is nothing that does not represent and signify something celestial and spiritual. Thus they not only affect the sight with pleasantness, but also the mind with happiness. [2] Certain souls, newcomers from the world-who from principles received while they lived, doubted the possibility of such things existing in the other life, where there is no wood and stone-being taken up thither and speaking thence with me, said in their amazement that it was beyond words, and that they could in no way represent the unutterableness of what they saw by any idea, and that joys and delights shone forth from every single thing, and this with successive varieties. The souls that are being introduced into heaven are for the most part carried first of all to the paradisal regions. But the angels look upon these things with different eyes; the paradises do not delight them, but the representatives; thus the celestial and spiritual things from which these come. It was from these representatives that the Most Ancient Church had what related to paradise.

As regards the rainbow scenes, there is as it were a rainbow heaven, where the whole atmosphere throughout appears to be made up of minute rainbows. Those who belong to the province of the interior eye are there, at the right in front, a little way up. There the whole atmosphere, or aura, is made up of such flashes of light, irradiated thus, as it were, in all its origins. Around is the encompassing form of an immense rainbow, most beautiful, composed of similar smaller ones that are the beauteous images of the larger. Every color is thus made up of innumerable rays, so that myriads enter into the constitution of one general perceptible ray; and this is as it were a modification of the origins of the light from the celestial and spiritual things that produce it; and which at the same time present before the sight the representative idea. The varieties and varyings of the rainbows are innumerable; some of them I have been permitted to see; and that some idea may be conceived of their variety, and that it may be seen of what innumerable rays one visible ray consists, one or two of the varieties may be described.

I saw the form of a certain large rainbow, in order that from it I might know what they are in their smallest forms. The light was the brightest white, encompassed with a sort of border or circumference, in the center of which there was a dimness as it were terrene, and around this it was intensely lucid, which intense lucidity was varied and intersected by another lucidity with golden points, like little stars; besides variegations induced by means of flowers of variegated hue, that entered into the intense lucidity. The colors of the flowers did not flow forth from a white, but from a flaming light. All these things were representative of things celestial and spiritual. All the colors seen in the other life represent what is celestial and spiritual; colors from flaming light, the things that are of love and of the affection of good; and colors from shining white light, those which are of faith and of the affection of truth. From these origins come all the colors in the other life; and for this reason they are so refulgent that the colors in this world cannot be compared to them. There are also colors that have never been seen in this world.

A rainbow form was also seen in the midst of which there was a green space, as of herbage; and there was perceived the semblance of a sun which was itself unseen, at one side, illuminating it, and pouring in a light of such shining whiteness as cannot be described. At the outer border or circumference, there were the most charming variations of color, on a plane of pearly light. From these and other things it has been shown what are the forms of the rainbows in their minutest parts, and that there are indefinite variations, and this in accordance with the charity, and the derivative faith, of him to whom the representations are made, and who is as a rainbow to those to whom he is presented in his comeliness and in his glory.

Besides these paradisal scenes, cities are also presented to view, with magnificent palaces, contiguous to one another, resplendent in their coloring, beyond all the art of the  architect. Nor is this to be wondered at; cities of similar appearance were seen also by the prophets, when their interior sight was opened, and this so clearly that nothing in the world could be more distinct. Thus was the New Jerusalem seen by John, which is also described by him in these words:

And he carried me away in the spirit upon a mountain great and high, and showed me the great city, the holy Jerusalem; having a wall great and high, having twelve gates; and the building of the wall thereof was jasper; and the city was pure gold, like unto golden glass. The foundations of the wall there adorned with all manner of precious stones. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth sardius, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprasus, the eleventh jacinth, the twelfth amethyst (Rev. 21:10, 12, 18-20).
Such things were seen also by the prophets. Similar things, beyond number, are seen by angels and angelic spirits in clear day; and wonderful to say, they are perceived with all fullness of sense. These things cannot be credited by one who has extinguished spiritual ideas by the terms and definitions of human philosophy, and by reasonings; and yet they are most true. That they are true might have been apprehended from the fact that they have been seen so frequently by the saints.

Besides the cities and palaces, I have sometimes been permitted to see their decorations, such as those of the steps and of the gates and these were moving as if alive, and continually changing, with a beauty and symmetry ever new. And I have been informed that the variations may thus succeed each other perpetually, even if it were to be to eternity, with new harmony continually, the succession itself also forming a harmony. And I have been told that these were among the very little things.

All the angels have their own dwellings in the places where they are, and they are magnificent. I have been there, and have sometimes seen and marveled at them, and have there spoken with the angels. They are so distinct and clearly seen that nothing can be more so. In comparison with these, the habitations on earth amount to scarcely anything. They also call those which are on the earth dead, and not real; but their own, living and true, because from the Lord. The architecture is such that the art itself is derived from it, with a variety that knows no limit. They have said that if all the palaces in the whole world should be given them, they would not receive them in exchange for their own. What is made of stone, clay, and wood is to them dead; but what is from the Lord, and from life itself and light itself, is living; and this is the more the case that they enjoy them with all fullness of sense. For the things that are there are perfectly adapted to the senses of spirits and angels; for spirits cannot see at all by their sight the things that are in the light of the solar world; but things of stone and wood are adapted to the senses of men in the body. Spiritual things are in correspondence with those who are spiritual, and corporeal things with those who are corporeal.

The habitations of good spirits and of angelic spirits commonly have porticos or long entrance halls, arched, and sometimes doubled, where they walk. The walls of these are formed with much variety, and are also decorated with flowers and garlands of flowers wonderfully woven together, and with many other ornaments, that are varied and succeed one another, as before said; these they see, now in a clearer light, and now in one less clear, but always with inward delight. Their dwellings are also changed into more beautiful ones, as the spirits who inhabit them are perfected. When they are changed, there appears something representing a window, at one side; this is enlarged, and it becomes darker within; and there opens as it were something of heaven, with stars, also a kind of cloud; which is an indication that their dwellings are to be changed into dwellings still more pleasant.

Spirits are very indignant that men have no conception of the life of spirits and angels, and that they suppose them to be in an obscure state, which cannot but be most sad, and as it were in vacuity and emptiness; when yet they are in the greatest light, and in the enjoyment of all good things as to all the senses, and this with an inmost perception of them. There have also been souls who had lately come from the world, and who had brought with them, from the principles there accepted, the idea that there were no such things in the other life. They were therefore introduced into the homes of angels, and spoke with those who were there, and saw these things. When they returned, they said that they had perceived that it was so, and that the things were real; but that they had not at all believed this in the life of the body, and could not believe it; also that these must of necessity be among those wonderful things that are not believed because they are not comprehended. But as the experience is a thing of sense, but of the interior sense, this also was said to them-that still they are not to doubt because they do not apprehend; for if nothing were believed except that which is apprehended, nothing would be believed respecting the things of interior nature; still less concerning the things that are of eternal life. Hence comes the insanity of our age.

They who had been rich in the life of the body, and had dwelt in magnificent palaces, placing their heaven in such things, and, being destitute of conscience and charity, had despoiled others of their goods under various pretenses, when they come into the other life, are, as before said, first introduced into the very same life that they had in the world. And there also they are sometimes allowed to dwell in palaces, as they had done in the world. For in the other life all are at first received as guests and as newcomers; and as their interiors and ends of life are not yet to be disclosed, angels from the Lord treat them with favor and kindness. But the scene is changed. The palaces are gradually dissipated, and become small houses, more and more mean, and at last none at all. And then they wander about, like those who ask alms, and beg to be received. But because they are of such a character, they are expelled from the societies; and at last they become excrementitious, and exhale a sphere of the stench of teeth.

I have spoken with angels concerning representatives, to the effect that there is nothing in the vegetable kingdom on the earth that does not in some way represent the Lord's kingdom. They said that all the beautiful and graceful things in the vegetable kingdom derive their origin from the Lord through heaven; and that when the celestial and spiritual things of the Lord inflow into nature, such things have actual existence; and that this is the source of the vegetative soul or life. Hence come representatives. And as this is not known in the world, it was called a heavenly secret.

(Arcana Coelestia 1619 - 1632)

April 21, 2015

Neighbors Toward Whom Works of Charity are to be Performed

From Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
Jesus said, When thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, and the blind; then thou shalt be blessed (Luke 14:13-14).

The master of the house said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor, and the maimed, and the lame, and the blind (Luke 14:21).

The Ancient Church distinguished into classes the neighbor or neighbors toward whom they were to perform the works of charity; and some they called "maimed," some "lame," some "blind," and some "deaf," meaning those who were spiritually so. Some also they called the "hungry," the "thirsty," "strangers," the "naked," the "sick," the "captives" (Matt. 25:33-36); and some "widows," "orphans," the "needy," the "poor," and the "miserable;" by whom they meant no other than those who were such as to truth and good, and who were to be suitably instructed, led on their way, and thus provided for as to their souls. But as at this day charity does not make the church, but faith, what is meant in the Word by these persons is altogether unknown; and yet it is manifest to everyone that it is not meant that the maimed, the lame, and the blind are to be called to a feast, and that it was not commanded by the master of the house that such should be brought in, but that those are meant who are spiritually such; also that in every thing spoken by the Lord there is what is Divine, consequently a celestial and spiritual sense.

Similar is the meaning of the Lord's words in Mark:
If thy foot cause thee to stumble, cut it off; it is good for thee to enter into life lame, rather than having two feet to be cast into the gehenna of fire, into fire unquenchable (Mark 9:45; Matt. 18:8); by the "foot which must be cut off" if it caused stumbling, is meant the natural, which is constantly opposing itself to the spiritual - that it must be destroyed if it attempt to impair truths; and thus that on account of the disagreement and dissuasion of the natural man, it is better to be in simple good, although in the denial of truth. This is signified by "entering into life lame."

(Arcana Coelestia 4302:5-6)

April 20, 2015

Truths ~ Their Origin from Truths Divine

From Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.  John 1:1-3 KJV

when the Lord was in the world He was the Divine truth itself, and afterward when He was glorified He became the Divine good, and thenceforth all Divine truth proceeds from Him. This Divine truth is light to the angels, which light is also that which illuminates our internal sight, which is that of the understanding.

As this sight does not see natural, but spiritual things, it has for its objects in the spiritual understanding the truths which are called the truths of faith; but in the natural understanding it has for its objects truths of the civil state which relate to what is just, and also truths of the moral state which relate to what is reputable, and lastly natural truths which are conclusions from the objects of the external senses, especially of the sight.

From all this it can be seen in what order truths follow, and that all and each have their origin from truths Divine, which are the internal beginnings of all things. Moreover the forms in which they are have had their origin from the same source, for these were created to receive and contain. This shows what is meant in John by all things having been created through the Word (John 1:1-3); for truth Divine is the veriest essential, and is the only substantial through which all things are.
(Arcana 8861)

April 17, 2015

The Human Race ~ The Basis on which Heaven is Founded

From Last Judgment ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
The human race is the foundation on which heaven is built, because man is the final creation; and what is created last is the foundation of all that precedes. Creation began with the highest or inmost, because it came from God, and advanced to the lowest or outermost, and there it first halted. The lowest level of creation is the natural world, containing the globe with its lands and seas together with everything on it. On completion of this stage, man was created; and on him was conferred the whole of God's order from first to last. The first principles of that order were conferred upon his inmost nature, the last expressions of it upon his ultimate nature. Thus man was made as a model of God's order. Hence it is that everything in and present with man is of both heavenly and worldly origin. His mental attributes derive from heaven, his bodily attributes from the world. For influences from heaven act upon his thoughts and affections and dispose them in keeping with the way his spirit receives those influences. Influences from the world act upon his senses and appetites and dispose them in keeping with the way his body receives them, but they are adapted to suit the thoughts and affections of his spirit.
From this ordering of creation it can be seen that the coherent linkage from first things to last is such that taken together they make up a single unit; in this, prior cannot be separated from posterior, just as cause cannot be separated from the effect produced by it. Thus the spiritual world cannot be separated from the natural world, nor this from the spiritual. In the same way the heaven where the angels are cannot be separated from the human race, nor the human race from that heaven. It has therefore been provided by the Lord that one should perform services for the other, that is, the heaven of angels should perform services for the human race, and the human race for the heaven of angels.

So it is that the dwellings of angels are in heaven, to all appearance separate from the places where people on earth live; but the angels are still present with human beings in their affections for good and truth. ...

The following words of the Lord mean that the dwellings of angels are with human beings in their affections for good and truth:

He who loves Me, keeps My word, and My Father will love him; and We shall come to him and make Our dwelling with him. John 14:23.

The Father and the Lord also there mean heaven, for where the Lord is, there is heaven. The Divine proceeding from the Lord makes heaven ... These words of the Lord also mean the same:

The comforter, the spirit of truth, remains among you and is in you. John 14:17.

The Comforter is Divine Truth proceeding from the Lord, which is why He is also called the Spirit of truth. Divine truth makes heaven, and also the angels, because they receive that truth. For the Divine proceeding from the Lord being Divine Truth, the source of the heaven of angels....

These words of the Lord too have a similar meaning: The kingdom of God is within you. Luke 17:21.

The kingdom of God is Divine good and truth, which angels receive. The presence of angels and spirits with human beings and in their affections has been granted me to see a thousand times from their presence and dwelling with me. But angels and spirits do not know with which human beings they are, neither do human beings know with which angels and spirits they live; the Lord alone knows and arranges this.

In short, all affections for good and truth reach out into heaven, and there is thus connexion and linking with those there who have similar affections. All affections for evil and falsity reach out into hell, and there is thus connexion and linking with those there who have similar affections. Affections reach out into the spiritual world, almost as the range of sight reaches out into the natural world. The connexions in either place are much alike, the difference being that in the natural world they are with things, in the spiritual world with communities of angels.

This makes it plain that the connexion between the heaven of angels and the human race is such that the existence of one is dependent upon the other. The heaven of angels without the human race would be like a house without a foundation, for heaven comes to an end in humanity and rests upon it. The situation is parallel to that in the individual person: his spiritual side, which is where his thoughts and will reside, acts upon his natural side, which is where his sense - impressions and actions take place, and in this they come to an end and stop. If a person did not have a natural side as well as a spiritual, and so was without those final and last stages, his spiritual side, the thoughts and affections of his spirit, would be dissipated, like things lacking boundaries.

There is a similar event when a person passes from the natural world into the spiritual, which happens at death. Then, since he is a spirit, he stands not on his own base, but upon the common base, namely, the human race. Anyone unfamiliar with the secrets of heaven might think that angels can exist without human beings and human beings without angels. But I can emphatically state from all my experience of heaven, and from all my conversations with angels, that there is no angel or spirit who exists without a human being, and no human being without a spirit or angel; there is a mutual and reciprocal link. These considerations establish firstly that the human race and the heaven of angels make up a single unit, and depend on each other for their continued existence, so that one cannot be taken away from the other.
(Last Judgment 9)

April 15, 2015

The Insane Idea of the Serpent

From True Christian Religion ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
It is generally believed that life is in man as his own, thus that he is not only a receptacle of life, but is also life. This general belief is from its so appearing, since man lives; that is, feels, thinks, speaks, and acts, wholly as if from himself. Wherefore the statement that man is a receptacle of life, and not life, must needs seem like something unheard of, or like a paradox, because it is opposed to the appearance, and thus to sensual thought. The cause of the fallacious belief that man is also life itself, consequently that life was created in man and afterward generated by parents, I have adduced from the appearance; but the reason why the fallacy is drawn from the appearance, is that most men at the present day are natural, and but few are spiritual, and the natural man judges from appearances and their fallacies, which are diametrically opposed to the truth that man is not life but only a receptacle of life.

That man is not life but a receptacle of life from God can be seen from these evident proofs, that all created things are in themselves finite, and that man, being finite, could have been created only from things finite. Therefore it is said in the book of Creation, that Adam was made from the earth and its dust, from which he was also named, for "Adam" means the earth's soil; and it is a fact that every man consists only of such things as are in the earth, and from the earth in the atmospheres. Those things that are in the atmospheres from the earth man absorbs by means of his lungs and the pores of his whole body, and the grosser elements he absorbs by means of food composed of earthy substances.

But in regard to man's spirit, that also is created from finite things. What is man's spirit but a receptacle of the life of the mind? The finite things of which it is composed are spiritual substances, which are in the spiritual world, and are also brought together in our earth and hidden therein. Unless they were therein along with material things no seed could be impregnated from things inmost, and then grow in a wonderful manner undeviatingly from the first shoot even to fruit and to new seed. Neither could any worms be procreated from effluvia from the earth and exhalations from vegetable matters, with which the atmospheres are impregnated.

Who can think rationally that the infinite can create anything but finite things, and that man, being finite, is anything but a form which the infinite can vivify from the life in itself? And this is what is meant by these words:

Jehovah God formed man, the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of lives (Gen. 2:7).

God, because He is infinite, is Life in Himself. This He cannot create and then transfer into man, for that would be to make man God. That this was done was the insane idea of the serpent or the devil, and from him of Adam and Eve; for the serpent said:

In the day ye eat of the fruit of this tree your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as God (Gen. 3:5).

This dire persuasion, that God transfused and transferred Himself into men, was held by the men of the Most Ancient church at its end, when it was consummated. This I have heard from their own mouths; and on account of that horrible belief that they were consequently gods, they lie deeply hidden in a cavern near to which no one can approach without being seized by an inward dizziness which causes him to fall. That the Most Ancient church is meant and described by Adam and his wife....

Who does not see, when he is able to think from reason elevated above the sensual things of the body, that life is not creatable? For what is life but the inmost activity of the love and wisdom that are in God and are God, which life, indeed, may be called the essential living force? He who sees this can also see that this life cannot be transferred into any man, except in connection with love and wisdom. Who denies or can deny that every good of love and every truth of wisdom is solely from God, and that so far as man receives these from God he lives from God, and is said to be born of God, that is, regenerated? On the other hand, so far as one does not receive love and wisdom, or what is the same, charity and faith, he does not receive from God the life that is life in itself, but life from hell, and this is no other than inverted life which is called spiritual death.
(True Christian Religion 470 - 471)

April 14, 2015

Uses are Heaven

From Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
"to serve the Lord" denotes to perform uses, is because true worship consists in the performance of uses, thus in the exercises of charity. He who believes that serving the Lord consists solely in frequenting a place of worship, in hearing preaching there, and in praying, and that this is sufficient, is much mistaken. The very worship of the Lord consists in performing uses; and during man's life in the world uses consist in everyone's discharging aright his duty in his station, thus from the heart being of service to his country, to societies, and to the neighbor, in dealing sincerely with his fellow, and in performing kind offices with prudence in accordance with each person's character. These uses are chiefly the works of charity, and are those whereby the Lord is chiefly worshiped. Frequenting a place of worship, hearing sermons, and saying prayers, are also necessary; but without the above uses they avail nothing, because they are not of the life, but teach what the life must be.

The angels in heaven have all happiness from uses, and according to uses, so that to them uses are heaven.
(Arcana Coelestia 7037)

April 12, 2015

A Spiritual Moral Man is An Inwardly Moral Man

From Doctrine of Life ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
1. Christian charity, with everyone, consists in faithfully performing what belongs to his calling, for by this, if he shuns evils as sins, he every day is doing goods, and is himself his own use in the general body. In this way also the common good is cared for, and the good of each person in particular.

2. All other things that he does are not the proper works of charity, but are either its signs, its benefactions, or its obligations.
(Doctrine of Life 114)

April 8, 2015

The Existence of Faith From Charity - Which is Before and Which is After

From Apocalypse Explained ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
Charity produces faith as good produces truth, and as affection produces thought, likewise as fire produces light.
It is speaking wholly contrary to order and inversely, to say that faith produces charity or its goods, which are called good works. But it is to be known that charity (which in its essence is the affection of knowing, understanding, willing, and doing truth), does not come into any perception of man until it has formed itself in the thought, which is from the understanding; for it then presents itself under some form or image by which it appears before the interior sight, for the thought that a thing is so in truth is called faith. From this it is clear that charity is actually prior and faith posterior, as good is actually prior and truth posterior, or as that which produces is essentially prior to the product, and as the esse is prior to the existere, for charity is from the Lord, and is also formed first in the spiritual mind; but because charity does not appear to man before it becomes faith therefore it may be said that faith does not exist with man until it becomes charity in form. So it may be said of the existence of charity and faith with man, that they both come into existence at the same moment; for although charity produces faith, yet as they make one neither of them in respect to man's perception can exist separate from the other in regard either to degree or to quality. Thence it is evident that the conjunction of the Lord with man is like the conjunction of good with truth. Good is from the Lord, and truths are with man, but they are truths that are not yet living. But as man receives good in truths so he receives the Lord into himself and lives; and he receives in the measure in which he abstains from evils, and from the Word shuns and turns away from them, for thus he shuns and turns away from them from the Lord and not from self.
(Apocalypse Explained 795)

April 7, 2015

What Principally Disjoins The External Man from The Internal

Selection from Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
... What disunites the external man from the internal man knows not, and this for many reasons. It is partly owing to his not knowing, or if told, to his not believing, that there is any internal man; and partly to his not knowing, or if told, to his not believing, that the love of self and its cupidities are what cause the disunion; and also the love of the world and its cupidities, but not so much as the love of self.

The reason why man does not know, and if told, does not believe, that there is an internal man, is that he lives in corporeal and sensuous things, which cannot possibly see what is interior. Interior things can see what is exterior, but never exterior things what is interior.

Take the case of sight:

the internal sight can see what the external sight is; but the external sight cannot see what the internal sight is; or again, the intellectual and the rational can perceive what the faculty of memory-knowledge is, but not the reverse.
A further cause is that man does not believe that there is a spirit which is separated from the body at death; and scarcely that there is an internal life which is called the soul; for when the sensuous and corporeal man thinks about the separation of the spirit from the body, it strikes him as an impossible thing, because he places life in the body, and confirms himself in this idea from the fact that brute animals also live, but still do not live after death; besides many other things. All this is a consequence of his living in corporeal and sensuous things; which kind of life, viewed in itself, scarcely differs from the life of brute animals, with the single exception that a man has ability to think and reason about the things he meets with; but upon this faculty, which brute animals have not, he does not then reflect.

This cause, however, is not what most disunites the external man from the internal, for a very great part of mankind are in such unbelief, and the most learned more than the simple. But what disunites is principally the love of self; the love of the world, also, but not so much as the love of self.

The reason why man does not know this is that he lives in no charity, and when he is living in no charity it cannot be apparent to him that a life of the love of self and its cupidities is so contrary to heavenly love.
There is also in the love of self and its cupidities something glowing, and consequently delightful, which so affects the life that the man hardly knows otherwise than that therein consists eternal happiness itself; and therefore many place eternal happiness in becoming great after the life of the body, and in being served by others, even by angels; while they themselves desire to serve no one, except for the sake of self, with a hidden view to being served themselves. Their saying that they desire to serve the Lord alone is false, for they who are in the love of self desire to have even the Lord serve them, and so far as this is not done they fall back. Thus they carry in their heart the desire to become lords themselves, and to reign over the universe. It is easy to conceive what kind of government this would be, when many, nay, when all, were like this. Is not that government infernal in which everyone loves himself more than any other? This lies hidden in the love of self. From this we can see the nature of the love of self, and we can see it also from the fact that there is concealed within it hatred against all who do not subject themselves to it as slaves; and because there is hatred, there are also revenge, cruelties, deceits, and many other wicked things.

But mutual love, which alone is heavenly, consists in a man's not only saying of himself, but acknowledging and believing, that he is utterly unworthy, and that he is something vile and filthy, which the Lord from His infinite mercy continually withdraws and holds back from hell, into which the man continually strives, nay longs, to precipitate himself. His acknowledging and believing this, is because it is true; not that the Lord, or any angel, desires him to acknowledge and believe it for the sake of his submission; but that he may not exalt himself, seeing that he is even such; for this would be as if excrement should call itself pure gold, or a fly of the dunghill should say that it is a bird of paradise. So far therefore as a man acknowledges and believes himself to be such as he really is, he recedes from the love of self and its cupidities, and abhors himself. So far as he does this, he receives heavenly love from the Lord, that is, mutual love, which consists in the desire to serve all. These are they who are meant by "the least," who become in the Lord's kingdom the greatest (see Matt. 20:26-28; Luke 9:46-48).

From what has been said we can see that what principally disjoins the external man from the internal is the love of self; and that what principally unites them is mutual love, which love is never possible until the love of self recedes, for these are altogether contrary to each other.

The internal man is nothing else than mutual love.
Man's very spirit or soul is the interior man that lives after death; and it is organic, for it is adjoined to the body while the man is living in this world. This interior man, that is, the soul or spirit, is not the internal man; but the internal man is in it when mutual love is in it.
The things that are of the internal man are the Lord's; so that it may be said that the internal man is the Lord.
But because to an angel or a man while he lives in mutual love, the Lord gives a heavenly Own, so that it appears no otherwise than that he does what is good of himself, the internal man is predicated of man, as if it were his. But he who is in mutual love acknowledges and believes that all that is good and true is not his, but the Lord's; and his ability to love another as himself-and what is more, if he is like the angels, his ability to love another more than himself-he acknowledges and believes to be the Lord's gift; from which gift and its happiness he recedes, so far as he recedes from the acknowledgment that it is the Lord's.
(Arcana Coelestia 1594)

April 6, 2015

There is Light When There is Interest

From Heaven and Hell ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
The nature of angelic wisdom can scarcely be comprehended, because it so greatly transcends human wisdom that the two cannot be compared; and whatever is thus transcendent does not seem to be any thing. Moreover, some truths that must enter into a description of it are as yet unknown, and until these become known they exist in the mind as shadows, and thus hide the thing as it is in itself. Nevertheless, these truths can be known, and when known be comprehended, provided the mind takes any interest in them; for interest carries light with it because it is from love; and upon those who love the things pertaining to Divine and heavenly wisdom light shines forth from heaven and gives enlightenment.
(Heaven and Hell 265)

April 4, 2015

Two Means Provided for Return

Selection from the Doctrine of Charity ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
In so far as anyone does not shun evils as sins, he remains in them.

Man was created into the image and likeness of God, and made so that he might be a recipient of the Lord's love and wisdom. But, because he did not want to be a recipient, but wanted to be actual love and wisdom, and thus like God, he consequently inverted his form, and so turned away his affections and thoughts from the Lord to himself, and so began to love, even to worship, himself more than the Lord. In this way he estranged himself from the Lord, and looked backwards away from Him, thereby perverting the image and likeness of God in himself, and making it into an image and likeness of hell. This is signified by his eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.  Genesis 3:6 KJV
By the serpent which he obeyed is signified the sensual, which is the ultimate of the natural man, and its lust. The sensual, because it exists in the world, and admits therefrom the objects it desires, loves the things of the world; and, if it is allowed to rule, it draws the mind [mens] away from the objects of heaven, which are goods of love and truths of wisdom, in themselves Divine. This is the origin of man being, in respect of his proprium, nothing but evil, and of his being born into it from parents.

But means have been provided by the Lord, so that he may not perish on account of this; and these are: to look to the Lord and acknowledge that every good of love and every truth of wisdom is from Him, and nothing from man himself. In this way man inverts his form, turning away from himself and turning round to the Lord; thus he returns to the state into which he was created, which was, as has been said, that he might be a recipient of good and truth from the Lord, not from himself at all. Man's proprium having, by this inversion, become evil only, there is the other means of recovering the image of God - shunning evils as sins. For if a man does not shun evils as sins, but only shuns them as hurtful, he is still not looking to the Lord, but to himself, and so continues in a perverted state. When, however, he shuns evils as sins, he is also shunning them because they are against the Lord and contrary to His Divine laws; and then he beseeches the Lord for help and for power to resist them; and this power, when besought, is never denied. It is by these two means that a man is purified from his innate evils.

Consequently, if he does not adopt these two means, he cannot but remain such as he was born. He cannot be purified from evils if he only looks to God and prays; for in that case he believes, after having prayed, either that he is entirely without sins, or that they have been remitted, by which he understands that they have been taken away. But in that case he still remains in them; and to remain in them is to increase them; for they are like a disease that eats away everything round about it and brings death. Nor are evils removed by only shunning them; for in that case the man is looking to himself, and he thereby strengthens the origin of evil, which was, that he turned himself backwards, away from the Lord, and round towards himself.

(Doctrine of the Lord 204)

April 3, 2015

The Spiritual Sense of the Word is at this Day Revealed

From Apocalypse Revealed ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse, signifies the spiritual sense of the Word revealed by the Lord, and the interior understanding of the Word disclosed thereby; which is the coming of the Lord.

By "heaven was seen open" is signified a revelation from the Lord, and the manifestation, concerning which below. By "a horse" is signified the understanding of the Word, and by "a white horse" the interior understanding of the Word; and as this is signified by "a white horse," and as the spiritual sense is the interior understanding of the Word, therefore that sense is signified here by "the white horse." The reason that this is the coming of the Lord, is because it manifestly appears by that sense that the Lord is the Word, and that the Word treats of Him alone, and that He is the God of heaven and earth, and that from Him alone the New Church exists. The Lord said that:
They should see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with glory and power (Matt. 17:5; 24:30; 26:64; Mark 14:61, 62; Luke 9:34-35; 21:27; Rev. 1:7; Acts 1:9, 11).
And the Lord said this also where He spoke with the disciples concerning the consummation of the age, which is the last time of the church, when the judgment takes place.

Everyone who does not think beyond the sense of the letter, believes that when the Last Judgment shall come, the Lord will appear in the clouds of heaven with the angels and sounds of trumpets. But that this is not meant, but that He will appear in the Word.... And the Lord appears manifestly in the spiritual sense of the Word. It appears not only that He is the Word, that is, the Divine truth itself, and that He is the inmost of the Word, and thence the all of it; but also that He Himself is the one God, in whom is the Trinity, and thus the only God of heaven and earth; and moreover that He came into the world, that He might glorify His Human, that is, make it Divine.
The Human which He glorified, that is, made Divine, was the natural human, which He could not glorify or make Divine but by taking on the human in a virgin in the natural world; to which He then united His Divine, which He had from eternity. That unition was effected by temptations admitted into the human that He had taken, the last of which was the passion of the cross, and at the same time by the fulfilling of all things of the Word; not only by the fulfilling of all things of the Word in its natural sense, but also by the fulfilling of all things of the Word in its spiritual sense and in its celestial sense; in which, as was said above, He alone is treated of.
But on these things, see what are manifested in The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Lord, and in The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Sacred Scripture.

Now, because the Lord is the Word, and the Word became flesh (John 1:1-2, 14), and the Word became flesh that He might fulfill it, it is manifest that the Lord's coming in the Word is meant by His appearing "in the clouds of heaven." That "the clouds of heaven" signify the Word in the sense of the letter....

It is manifest that the Lord's appearing in the Word is meant, because the interior understanding of the Word is signified by "the white horse," and it is said that the name of Him that sat upon the horse is "The Word of God," and that His name is "King of kings and Lord of lords" (verses 13, 16).

It is now manifest from this, that by "I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse," is signified the spiritual sense of the Word revealed by the Lord, and thereby the interior understanding of it disclosed; which also is the coming of the Lord. That the spiritual sense of the Word is at this day revealed, concerning which no one in the Christian world has before known anything, may be seen in the Arcana Coelestia, where the two books of Moses, Genesis and Exodus are explained according to that sense; also in The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Sacred Scripture (n. 5-26); in a little work Concerning the White Horse from beginning to end, and in the things collected there from the Arcana Coelestia concerning the Sacred Scripture; and besides in these explanations upon Revelation, where not a single verse can be understood without the spiritual sense.

(Apocalypse Revealed 820)

April 2, 2015

How in Succeeding Time Wisdom Retired

From Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
The literal sense of the Word is threefold; namely, historical, prophetical, and doctrinal, each of which is such that it may be apprehended even by those who are in externals.

As regards the Word the case is this: In the most ancient time, when the celestial church existed, the Word was not, because the men of that church had the Word inscribed on their hearts; for the Lord taught them immediately through heaven what was good, and thence what was true, and gave them both to perceive from love and charity, and to know from revelation. To them the veriest Word was the Lord.

After this church another succeeded that was not celestial but spiritual, and at first this church had no other Word than that which had been gathered from the most ancient people; which Word was representative of the Lord, and significative of His kingdom; thus the internal sense was to them the very Word. (That they had also a written Word, both historic and prophetic, which is no longer extant; and that in this there was in like manner an internal sense, which had relation to the Lord, may be seen AC 2686.) Hence it was the wisdom of that time both to speak and to write by representatives and significatives; within the church concerning Divine things, and out of the church concerning other things; as is evident from the writings of those ancient people which remain with us.

But in process of time this wisdom perished, to such a degree that at last they did not know that there was any internal sense even in the books of the Word. The Jewish and Israelitish nation was of the character ... and accounted the prophetic Word holy from the fact that it sounded ancient, and they heard the name Jehovah in the sense of the letter; and they did not believe that anything Divine was deeply hidden within it; nor does the Christian world think any more reverently of the Word.

From this we can see how in succeeding time wisdom retired from inmost things to outermost; and that man had removed himself from heaven, and had at last descended even to the dust of the earth, wherein he now places wisdom. As it has fared thus with the Word, so that its internal sense has been successively obliterated, and at this day to such a degree that it is not known that there is such a sense, when yet this sense is the veriest Word in which the Divine proximately dwells...
(Arcana Coelestia 3432)

April 1, 2015

Why the Word is called by some the Book of Heresies

From Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
For as for this Moses, the man that made us come up out of the land of Egypt,
we know not what hath become of him.
That this signifies that it is altogether unknown what other Divine truth there is in the Word, which raises man from what is external into what is internal, and makes the church, is evident from the representation of Moses, as being the Word, thus as being Divine truth; consequently doubt and denial that there is any other Divine truth than that which stands forth in the sense of the letter, is signified by the words, "as for this man Moses, we know not what hath become of him." It is said "this man," because by "man" in the Word is signified truth. And from the signification of "bringing the sons of Israel up out of the land of Egypt," as being elevation out of the natural or external man to the internal or spiritual man, in order that he may become the church; for by "the land of Egypt" is signified the natural or the external of the church; by "making to come up" is signified elevation; and by "the sons of Israel" is signified the church....

From all this it is evident that by the words, "as for this Moses, the man that made us to come up out of the land of Egypt, we know not what hath become of him," is signified that it is altogether unknown what other Divine truth there is in the Word, which raises man from what is external into what is internal, and makes the church, than that which stands forth in the sense of the letter. So likewise do all those think and speak who are in external things without internal; and all those are in external things without internal who are in the loves of self and of the world. For with such the internal man is closed, and only the external man is open; and that which the external man without the internal sees when he reads the Word, he sees in thick darkness, because in spiritual things natural light, without light from heaven, is mere thick darkness, and light from heaven enters through the internal man into the external and enlightens it. From this it is that so many heresies have arisen, and that the Word is called by some the Book of Heresies, and that it is wholly unknown that there is anything internal in the Word; and those who think that there is such an internal still do not know wherein it lies. That it is such who are meant by the dragon which drew with its tail the third part of the stars from heaven and cast them to the earth (Rev. 12) will of the Lord's Divine mercy be shown elsewhere.

Let such observe as will, whether at the present day anyone knows otherwise than that the Divine itself of the Word is the sense of its letter. But let them consider also whether anyone can know the Divine truths of the Word in this sense except by means of doctrine therefrom, and that if he has not doctrine for a lamp he is carried away into errors, wherever the obscurity of his understanding and the delight of his will lead and draw him. The doctrine which must be for a lamp is what the internal sense teaches, thus it is the internal sense itself, which in some measure lies open to everyone (even if he does not know what the internal sense is) who is in what is external from what is internal, that is, whose internal man is open. For heaven (which is in the internal sense of the Word) flows in with such a man when he reads the Word, enlightens him, and gives him perception, and thus teaches him. Nay, if you will believe it, with man the internal man is of itself in the internal sense of the Word, because it is a heaven in the least form, and consequently when it is open it is with the angels in heaven, and is therefore also in like perception with them. This can also be seen from the fact that the interior intellectual ideas of man are not such as are his natural ideas, to which nevertheless they correspond.

But of the nature of these ideas man is not aware so long as he lives in the body; but he comes into them spontaneously when he comes into the other life, because they are implanted in him, and by means of them he is forthwith in fellowship with the angels. From this it is evident that the man whose internal is open, is in the internal sense of the Word, although he is not aware of it. From this he has enlightenment when he reads the Word, but according to the light that he can have by means of the knowledges which he has.

(Arcana Coelestia 10400)