May 19, 2024

Knowing whether Faith is a belief in Truth and Love a love of Good

Selection from Apocalypse Explained ~ Emanuel Swedenborg


It is evident that domination was given to this faith, since faith alone is the universal prevailing principle in the churches; for it has been taken to be the essential means of salvation, as is clearly evident from the doctrines of the churches, as well as from the verbal profession of the men of the church, and in general from their lives; also from this, that they do not know what charity and love are, consequently what works are. And as such is the domination of faith separate, so it has domination over all the truths and goods of the church, and extinguishes them by falsifying, perverting, and adulterating them; for where that faith rules there is no longer anything good, and thence no truth.

It is known that faith from love is the essential means of salvation, and thus is the principle of the doctrine of the church; but since it is important to know how a man can be in such enlightenment as to learn the truths that must constitute his faith and in such affection as to do the goods that must constitute his love, and thus can know whether his faith is a belief in truth and his love a love of good, this shall be told in its proper order, as follows:

(1) Let him read the Word every day, one or two chapters, and learn from a master and from preachings the dogmas of his religion; and especially let him learn that God is one, and that the Lord is the God of heaven and earth (John 3:35; 17:2; Matt. 11:27; 28:18), that the Word is holy, that there is a heaven and a hell, and that there is a life after death.

(2) Let him learn from the Word, from a master, and from preachings, what works are sins, and that they are especially adulteries, thefts, murders, false witness, and the others mentioned in the Decalogue; likewise that lascivious and obscene thoughts are also adulteries, that frauds and illicit gains are also thefts, that hatred and revenge are also murders, and that lies and blasphemies are also false witness; and so on. Let him learn all these things from childhood to youth.

(3) When man begins to think for himself, which is the case after he has grown up, it must be to him the first and chief thing to refrain from doing evils for the reason that they are sins against the Word, thus against God, and for the reason that if he does them he will gain, not life eternal, but hell; and afterwards as he grows up and becomes old he must shun them as damned, and must turn away from them in thought and intention. But in order to so refrain from them and shun and turn away from them, he must pray to the Lord for help. The sins he must refrain from and must shun and turn away from are chiefly adulteries, frauds, illicit gains, hatreds, revenges, lies, blasphemies, and elation of mind.

(4) So far as man detests these evils because they are opposed to the Word, and thence opposed to God, so far there is granted him communication with the Lord, and conjunction is effected with heaven. For the Lord enters, and with the Lord heaven enters, as sins are removed; since these and their falsities are the sole hindrances. The reason is because man has been placed in the midst between heaven and hell, wherefore hell acts from the one side, and heaven from the other; therefore so far as evils that are from hell are removed, so far goods from heaven enter; for the Lord says:
Behold I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hear and open the door, I will come in to him (Rev. 3:20).
But if man refrains from doing these evils for any other reason than because they are sins, and are opposed to the Word and because thence to God, no conjunction of heaven with him is effected, because his refraining is from self, and not from the Lord. The Lord is in the Word, even so that He is called the Word (John 1:1-4), because the Word is from Him; consequently the conjunction of heaven with the man of the church is by means of the Word.

(5) So far, then, as man detests these sins so far good affections enter. Then so far as he detests adulteries so far chastity enters; so far as he detests frauds and unlawful gains so far sincerity and justice enter; so far as he detests hatred and revenge so far charity enters; so far as he detests lies and blasphemies so far truth enters; and so far as he detests elation of mind so far humility before God and love of the neighbor as oneself enter; and so on. From this it follows that to shun evils is to do goods.

(6) So far as a man is in these good affections he is led by the Lord and not by self; and so far as he acts from them so far he does what is good, because he does this from the Lord and not from self; and then he acts from chastity, from sincerity and justice, from charity, from truth, in humility before God; and from these no one can act from self.

(7) The spiritual affections that are granted by the Lord to him who is in them and who acts from them, are the affection of knowing and understanding the truths and goods of heaven and the church, together with the affection of willing and doing them; also the affection of combating with zeal against falsities and evils and dispersing them, both with himself and with others. From this man has faith and love, and from this he has intelligence and wisdom.

(8) Thus and in no other way is man reformed; and so far as he knows and believes truths, and wills and does them, so far is he regenerated, and from natural becomes spiritual. The like is true of his faith and his love.

If evils have not been removed because they are sins nothing that a man thinks, speaks, wills, and does, is good or true before God, however it may appear as if good and true before the world. The reason is that they are not from the Lord but from man, since it is the love of the man and of the world from which they are, and which is in them. Most people at this day believe that they will come into heaven if they have faith, live piously, and do goods; and yet they do not turn away from evils because they are sins, consequently they either do them or believe them to be allowable; and those who believe them to be allowable do them when opportunity is given. But let them know that their faith is not faith, that their pious things are not pious, and that their goods are not goods; for they flow from the impurities that lie inwardly concealed with man; and externals derive everything that they are from internals. For the Lord says:
Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup and of the platter, that the outside may become clean also (Matt. 22:26).
From this it can now be seen that if a man were able to fulfill all things of the law, if he should give much to the poor, if he should do good to the fatherless and the widow, and if he should also give bread to the hungry and drink to the thirsty, take in the strangers, clothe the naked, visit the sick, and go to them that are bound in prison, if he should earnestly preach the Gospel, convert the Gentiles, frequent temples, listen devoutly to preachings, observe the sacrament of the Supper often every year, spend his time in prayer, and other things; and his internal has not been purified from hatred and revenge, from craftiness and malice, from insincerity and injustice, from the filthy delight of adultery, from the love of self and the consequent love of rule, and the pride of self-intelligence, from contempt of others in comparison with oneself, and from the other evils and their falsities; still all these works would be hypocritical and from the man himself, and not from the Lord.

And yet these same works, when the internal has been purified, are all good, because they are from the Lord with man, and since the man is in the faith and in the love of doing these works he will do them as a matter of course. This has been proved to me by a thousand examples in the spiritual world. I have there heard that it has been granted to many to recall the actions of their life in the world, and to enumerate the goods they had done; but when their internal was opened it was found to be full of every evil and the falsity therefrom; and it was then disclosed to them that the goods they had enumerated had been done from self, because for the sake of self and the world, and that they were full of evils from their interiors; and on this account they appeared either as if scorched with fire, or as if sooty.

But it was otherwise with those who from the Word had abstained from doing evils, and had afterwards shunned them and turned away from them because they were sins and were opposed to love to God and to charity towards the neighbor. Although there was a similar perception to them that their works were done as if from self, yet they were all good, and appeared in the light of heaven like white snow and wool (Isaiah 1:12-18). These are the works that are meant in the Word by the works that can in no wise be separated from faith; for faith separated from them is dead, and a dead faith is a faith in falsity from an evil love; or it is the thought that a thing is true, while the life is still evil.

That abstaining from evils for any reason whatever except from the Word does not purify the internal man is evident from the origin of evil works and from the origin of good works. For example, he that abstains from adulteries from fear of the civil law and its punishments, from fear of the loss of reputation and thus of honor, from fear of deprivations arising from poverty, parsimony, or avarice, from fear of consequent illness, from fear of brawls at home with the wife and the consequent intranquility of life, from fear of chastisement by the servants of the injured husband, from infirmity arising from abuse, or age, or impotence, or even from natural goodness and consequent moral goodness, that is, as not being proper and honorable, and so on, and if for such reasons only he lives chastely still he is interiorly unchaste and an adulterer, so long as he does not abstain from these evils from spiritual faith, which is a belief that adulteries are infernal because they are contrary to the Divine Law, and thus contrary to the fear of God and to love of the neighbor. And so in all other cases.

From what has now been presented it can be seen what the internal and the external are, also what faith and love are, namely, that faith and love are with man when his internal has been purified from evils in the manner just described, and that they are not in him if it be not purified, and that where faith and love are, there is heaven, and where faith and love are not, there is hell.

(from Apocalypse Explained 803)

May 17, 2024

A Ratio Between 'The Finite' and 'The Infinite' Provided

Selection from Divine Providence ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. John 15:4-12
The Infinite and Eternal in itself must needs look to what is Infinite and Eternal from Itself in things finite. By the Infinite and Eternal in itself the Divine Itself is meant, — [the Infinite in itself and the Eternal in itself is the Divine is in accord with the angelic idea, the angels understanding by the Infinite nothing else than the Divine being (esse), and by the Eternal the Divine manifestation (existere)]; by things finite all things created by the Divine, especially men, spirits, and angels, are meant, and to look to what is Infinite and Eternal from Itself is to look to the Divine, that is, Itself, in these, as a man looks at his image in a mirror.


In all forms of uses there is a kind of image of man.
That all uses, from firsts to outmosts and from outmosts to firsts, have relation to all parts of man and have correspondence with them, consequently that man is, in a kind of image, a universe, and conversely that the universe viewed as to uses is in image a man.
In all forms of uses there is a kind of image
of the Infinite and the Eternal.
The image of the Infinite in these forms is plain from their conatus and power to fill the spaces of the whole world, and even of many worlds, to infinity. For a single seed produces a tree, shrub, or plant, which fills its own space; and each tree, shrub, or plant produces seeds, in some cases thousands of them, which, when sown and grown up, fill their own spaces; and if from each seed of these there should proceed as many more, reproduced again and again, in the course of years the whole world would be filled; and if the production were still continued many worlds would be filled; and this to infinity. Estimate a thousand seeds from one, and multiply the thousand by a thousand ten times, twenty times, even to a hundred times, and you will see.

There is a like image of the Eternal in these forms; seeds are propagated from year to year, and the propagations never cease; they have not ceased from the creation of the world till now, and will not cease to eternity.

These two are standing proofs and attesting signs that all things of the universe have been created by an Infinite and Eternal God.

Beside these images of the Infinite and Eternal, there is another image of the Infinite and Eternal in varieties, in that there can never be a substance, state, or thing in the created universe the same as or identical with any other, neither in atmospheres, nor in lands, nor in the forms arising out of these. Thus not in any of the things which fill the universe can any thing the same be produced to eternity. This is plainly to be seen in the variety of the faces of human beings; no one face can be found throughout the world which is the same as another, nor can there be to all eternity, consequently not one mind, for the face is the type of the mind. (Divine Love and Wisdom 317, 318)
But that this may be more fully understood it shall be illustrated. The Divine can look only to the Divine; and it can look to this nowhere but in things created by Itself. That this is true is evident from this, that one can look to another only from what is his own in himself. He that loves another looks to him from his own love in himself; and he that is wise looks to another from his own wisdom in himself. He may see that the other loves him or does not love him, and is wise or not wise, but this he sees from the love and wisdom in himself; and therefore he conjoins himself with the other so far as the other loves him as he loves the other, or so far as the other is wise as he is wise; for thus they make one.

It is the same with the Divine in itself, for the Divine in itself is not able to look to itself from another, that is, from a man or a spirit or an angel; for there is nothing in them of the Divine in itself from which [all things are], and to look to the Divine from another in whom there is nothing of the Divine would be to look to the Divine from what is not Divine, which is not possible. For this reason the conjunction of the Lord with a man or a spirit or an angel is such that every thing that has relation to the Divine is not from them, but from the Lord. For it is known that all the good and all the truth that any one has is from the Lord and not from himself, and that no one can even mention the Lord, or His names, "Jesus," and "Christ," except from Him.

From this, then, it follows, that the Infinite and Eternal, which is the same as the Divine, looks to all things in the finite infinitely, and conjoins Itself with them in accordance with the degree of reception of wisdom and love in them. In a word, the Lord can have an abode in man or angel and dwell with them, only in His own, and not in what is their own (proprium), for that is evil; and if it were good it would still be finite, which in itself and from itself cannot contain the Infinite. All this makes clear that it is impossible for a finite being to look to the Infinite; but it is possible for the Infinite to look to what is Infinite from Himself, in finite beings.

There is an appearance that the Infinite cannot be conjoined with the finite, because there is no possible ratio between them, and because the finite cannot contain what is Infinite; nevertheless, such a conjunction is possible, both because the Infinite created all things from Himself —


It is known throughout the world, and acknowledged by every wise man from interior perception, that God, who is the Creator of the universe, is One; and it is known from the Word that God the Creator of the universe is called "Jehovah," which is from the verb to be, because He alone is. That the Lord from eternity is that Jehovah is shown by many statements from the Word in The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem Concerning the Lord. Jehovah is called the Lord from eternity, since Jehovah assumed a Human that He might save men from hell; He then commanded His disciples to call Him Lord. Therefore in the New Testament Jehovah is called "the Lord;" as can be seen from this:
Thou shalt love Jehovah thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul (Deut. 5:5);
but in the New Testament:
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul (Matt. 22:35).
It is the same in other passages in the Gospels, taken from the Old Testament.

Every one who thinks from clear reason sees that the universe was not created out of nothing, for he sees that not anything can be made out of nothing; since nothing is nothing, and to make anything out of nothing is a contradiction, and a contradiction is contrary to the light of truth, which is from Divine Wisdom; and whatever is not from Divine Wisdom is not from Divine Omnipotence.

Every one who thinks from clear reason sees also that all things have been created out of a Substance that is Substance in itself, for that is Esse itself, out of which every thing that is can take form; and since God alone is Substance in itself, and therefore Esse itself, it is evident that from this source alone is the formation of things.

Many have seen this, because reason causes them to see it; and yet they have not dared to confirm it, fearing lest they might thereby be led to think that the created universe is God, because from God, or that nature is from itself, and consequently that the inmost of nature is what is called God. For this reason, although many have seen that the formation of all things is from God alone and out of His Esse, yet they have not dared to go beyond their first thought on the subject, lest their understanding should become entangled in a so-called Gordian knot, beyond the possibility of release. Such release would be impossible, because their thought of God, and of the creation of the universe by God, has been in accordance with time and space, which are properties of nature; and from nature no one can have any perception of God and of the creation of the universe; but every one whose understanding is in any interior light can have a perception of nature and of its creation out of God, because God is not in time and space. ...

Although God has created the universe and all things thereof out of Himself, yet there is nothing whatever in the created universe that is God; and other things besides, which will place this matter in its proper light. (Divine Love and the Divine Wisdom 282-283)
And because the Infinite in things finite can look only to what is Infinite from Himself, and with finite beings this Infinite from Himself can appear as if it were in them, whereby a ratio between the finite and the Infinite is provided, not from the finite, but from the Infinite in the finite; and by this also the finite being becomes capable of containing what is Infinite, not the finite being in himself, but as if in himself from what is Infinite from itself in him.

(from Divine Providence 52-54)

May 13, 2024

The Spiritual Idea of Good and Truth

Selection from Charity ~ Emanuel Swedenborg


It is said, in the spiritual idea, because this is the idea in which the spiritual man is, inwardly; and the angels are in the same idea. This idea is abstract from matter, space, and time, and especially is abstract from person.

Man is man not from his form, but from the good and truth in him, or what is the same, from will and understanding. It is known that the will and understanding are the very man, and not his form, which appears in the face and body as a man. Some are foolish and insane, and yet appear as men; some are so natural that they are like animals, save that they can speak; others are rational and spiritual. The human form of these last may appear less beautiful, and yet they are men more than the others. Take away the good and truth from them, and the human form remains, in which there is no man; they are as pictures and sculptured forms, and as apes.

It is said, good and truth, that is, will and understanding, because good is of the will and truth is of the understanding; for the will is the receptacle of good, and the understanding is the receptacle of truth.

And yet good and truth cannot be except in their subject. Nothing can be separated from its subject. Therefore man is the neighbor; but in the spiritual idea good and truth, from which man is man.

Therefore the good and truth in a man is the neighbor that is to be loved. Set before your eyes three or ten persons, whom you are choosing for some domestic employment. Do you choose otherwise than according to the good and truth in them, whence man is man?

If you are choosing one among ten for the performance of some service, do you not inquire into his will and understanding?

The one who is chosen is your neighbor who is loved. A man devil may appear with a similar face as a man angel. Should not the man angel be loved, and not the man devil? You show favor to the man angel, on account of the good and truth in him, but not to the man devil. It is charity that he should be punished if he does evil, and that the man angel should be rewarded.

If you observe ten virgins, among whom five are harlots and five are chaste, and would choose one for a wife, do you not choose one of the chaste, according to her good, which accords with your good?

The quality of the neighbor is according to the quality of the good in a man; or such as the man is, such is the neighbor. That all men are not equally the neighbor, the Lord's parable of the man wounded by robbers teaches, —
And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live. But he, willing to justify himself, said unto Jesus, And who is my neighbour?

And Jesus answering said, A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, which stripped him of his raiment, and wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. And by chance there came down a certain priest that way: and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. And likewise a Levite, when he was at the place, came and looked on him, and passed by on the other side. But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was: and when he saw him, he had compassion on him, and went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him. And on the morrow when he departed, he took out two pence, and gave them to the host, and said unto him, Take care of him; and whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee. Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves? And he said, He that shewed mercy on him. Then said Jesus unto him, Go, and do thou likewise.
Luke 10:29-37
"he is neighbor who showed mercy on him."

Whoever does not distinguish the neighbor according to the quality of good and truth in him may be deceived a thousand times, and his charity become confused and at length no charity. A man devil may exclaim, "I am a neighbor: do good to me." And if you do good to him he may kill you or others. You are placing a knife or a sword in his hand.

The simple act thus. They say every man is equally a neighbor, and that they deem it no business of theirs to search into his quality; but God looks to that; I may only render assistance to a neighbor. But this is not loving the neighbor. He who from genuine charity loves the neighbor inquires what the quality of a man is, and does good to him discreetly, and according to the quality of his good.

Such simple ones are withdrawn and separated in the other life; for if they come among diabolical spirits they are allured to do good to them, and to do evil to the good. These spirits cry out, "Set me free! Help me!" This is the greatest strength which the evil acquire. Without help from and, as it were, conjunction with them, they have no power at all; but with them whom they have deceived by the name of neighbor, they are strong.

Genuine charity itself is prudent and wise. Other charity is spurious, because it is of the will or of good alone, and not at the same time of the understanding or of truth.

The degree of neighbor is according to the degree of good and truth in a man; consequently, one man is not neighbor in the same degree as another. Good is distinguished, according to degrees
    • civil good
    • moral good
    • spiritual good
The neighbor which a man will love from charity will be spiritual good. Without this good there is no charity; for the good of charity is spiritual good, since it is according to this good that all in the heavens are conjoined.

Moral good, which is actual human good (for it is the rational good according to which man lives with man, as a brother and associate), is neighbor so far as it is derived from spiritual good; for moral good without spiritual is external good, is of the external will, and is not internal good. It may be evil, which is not to be loved.

Civil good is the good of a life in accordance with the civil laws; and its first and fundamental principle, is not to act contrary to those laws on account of the penalties. If within this good there is not moral good, and within this, spiritual good, it is none other than the animal good which beasts have, when kept shut up or chained, towards those who give them food, or who punish or caress them.

These goods a man learns in his early infancy from the Decalogue. The laws of the Decalogue first become civil laws, afterwards moral, and finally spiritual; and then first do the goods become goods of charity, according to their degree.

Charity itself regards first the good of man's soul; and loves that because conjunction is effected by it. Next to that it regards his moral good; and loves it, just in proportion as he lives a moral life according to the perfection of reason. And, lastly, it regards civil good, according to what the man is in his interaction with the world. Through his civil good the man is a man of the world; according to his moral good he is a man above the world, and lower than heaven; and according to his spiritual good he is a man of heaven, or an angel. The consociation of man with man is effected by this good, and then by goods of the lower degrees, according to their degree. For example: There is the spiritual man who wills well and does not understand well, and he who does not understand well does not act well; he is, therefore, scarcely a rational moral man. And there is the man who understands well and does not will well. Such a man is not the neighbor according to his understanding; but he who does not will well is not the neighbor, however well he may understand.

In a word, the will constitutes the neighbor, and the understanding so far as it is of the will.

The good of the internal will is the neighbor that is to be loved, and not the good of the external will, unless this makes one with the other. There is an internal will and an external will; likewise an internal and an external understanding.

The internal will has conjunction with heaven, and the external will with the world.

All good is of the will, and the very good of charity is good of the internal will.

These are wont to be separated in a man; and are most widely separated in hypocrites, dissemblers, and flatterers for the sake of gain.

But when these wills make one then the goods of both make one good, which is the neighbor. These principles may be illustrated by examples and comparisons.

Truth is the neighbor as far as it makes one with good; and it makes one as do form and essence. Every form derives its quality from an essence. Therefore whatever the quality of the essence is, such is that of its form.

This may be illustrated by the fact that such as the will is such is the understanding, in itself regarded.

It may also be illustrated by sound and speech, and by many other things.

That truth is good in form may be seen in the Apocalypse Explained.

It is clear, then, that in the spiritual idea good is the neighbor that is to be loved, or the man according to his good.

(from Charity 42-71)

May 8, 2024

Faith in God the Savior Jesus Christ

Selection from True Christian Religion ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

Saving faith is faith in God the Savior, because He is God and Man, and He is in the Father and the Father in Him; thus they are one; therefore those who go to Him, at the same time go to the Father also, thus to the one and only God, and there is no saving faith in any other. That men ought to believe or have faith in the Son of God, the Redeemer and Savior, conceived from Jehovah, born of the virgin Mary, and called Jesus Christ, is evident from the commands so frequently repeated by Him and afterwards by His apostles. That faith in Him was commanded by Himself, is clearly evident from the following passages:
Jesus said, This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that everyone who beholdeth the Son and believeth in Him, should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day (John 6:40).
He that believeth in the Son hath eternal life but he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him (John 3:36)
That whosoever believeth in the Son should not perish, but have eternal life for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life (John 3:15, 16).
Jesus said, I am the Resurrection and the Life; he that believeth in Me shall never die (John 11:25, 26)
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth in Me hath eternal life. I am the bread of life (John 6:47, 48)
I am the bread of life; he that cometh to Me shall not hunger, and he that believeth in Me shall never thirst (John 6:35).
Jesus cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink; he that believeth in Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water (John 7:37, 38).
They said to Jesus, What must we do, that we may work the works of God? Jesus answered, This is the work of God, that ye believe in Him whom He hath sent (that is, the Father) (John 6:28, 29).
While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be sons of light (John 12:36).
He that believeth in the Son of God is not judged; but he that believeth not hath been judged already because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:18).
These things are written that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing ye may have life in His name (John 20:31).
Unless ye believe that I am, ye shall die in your sins (John 8:24)
Jesus said, When the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will convict the world respecting sin, and righteousness, and judgment; respecting sin, because they believe not in Me (John 16:8, 9).
That the faith of the apostles was no other than a faith the Lord Jesus Christ, is evident from many passages in their Epistles, from which I will present only the following:
I live; yet no longer I, but Christ liveth in me but what I now live in the flesh, I live in faith which is in the Son of God (Gal. 2:20).
Paul testified,
Both to Jews and to Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21).
He who brought Paul out said, What must I do to be saved? And he said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, thus shalt thou be saved, and thy house (Acts 16:30, 31).
He that hath the Son hath the life and he that hath not the Son of God, hath not the life. These things have I written unto you that believe in the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe in the name of the Son of God (1 John 5:12, 13)
We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, yet knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ (Gal. 2:15, 16).
Because theirs was a faith in Jesus Christ, and also because faith is also from Him, they called it the faith of Jesus Christ, as in the passage just quoted (Gal. 2:16),
and in the following:
The righteousness of God, through the faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe that He may justify him who is of the faith of Jesus (Rom. 3:22, 26).
Having the righteousness which is from the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith (Phil. 3:9).
He that keepeth the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus (Apoc. 14:12).
Through the faith which is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 3:15).
In Jesus Christ is faith working through love (Gal. 5:6).
From all this it can be seen what kind of faith is meant by Paul in the saying now so often quoted in the church:
Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law (Rom. 3:28);
namely, that it is not a faith in God the Father, but in His Son, still less a faith in three Gods in order, in one from whom, in another for the sake of whom, and in a third through whom [comes salvation]. It is believed in the church, that its tripersonal faith is meant by Paul in that saying, for the reason that the church, during fourteen centuries, or ever since the Nicene Council, has acknowledged no other faith, and consequently has known no other, and has therefore believed this to be the one only faith, and that no other is possible. So wherever the word faith occurs in the New Testament that faith is supposed to be meant, and to it everything there has been applied; therefore the only saving faith, which is a faith in God the Savior, has perished; and in consequence so many fallacies and so many paradoxes adverse to sound reason have crept into the doctrines of the church. For every doctrine of the church that will teach and point out the way to heaven or to salvation depends on faith; and so many fallacies and paradoxes having crept into that faith, as before said, it became necessary to proclaim the dogma, that the understanding must be kept in subjection to faith. But since in that saying of Paul (Rom. 3:28) the term faith does not mean faith in God the Father but faith in His Son; and works of the law do not there mean the works of the law of the Decalogue, but the works of the Mosaic law for the Jews (as is plain from subsequent verses there, and also from like passages in the Epistle to the Galatians,
But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?
We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles
(2:14, 15)
that foundation stone of the present faith is gone, and with it falls the temple built upon it, like a house sinking into the earth and leaving only the top of its roof above ground.

Men ought to believe, that is, have faith, in God the Savior Jesus Christ, because that is a faith in a visible God within whom is the invisible; and faith in a visible God, who is at once Man and God, enters into a man; for faith in its essence is spiritual but in its form is natural; consequently with man such a faith becomes spiritual-natural. For anything spiritual, in order to be anything with man, must have a recipient in the natural. The naked spiritual does indeed enter into man, but it is not received; it is like the ether, which flows in and out producing no effect, for to produce an effect there must be perception and consequent reception, both of these in his mind; and no such reception is possible with man except in his natural. But on the other hand merely natural faith, or faith destitute of a spiritual essence, is not faith, but only persuasion or knowledge. In externals persuasion emulates faith; but since there is in its internals no spirituality, neither is there anything saving in it. Such is the faith of all who deny the Divinity of the Lord's Human; such was the Arian faith, and such also is the Socinian faith, because both reject the Lord's Divinity. What is faith without an object toward which it is determined? Is it not like gazing into the universe, where the sight falls, as it were, into vacuity and is lost? It is like a bird flying beyond the atmosphere into the ether, where, as in a vacuum, it ceases to breathe. The abiding of this faith in man's mind may be compared to that of the winds in the wings [halls?] of Aeolus, or of light in a falling star. It rises like a comet with a long tail, and like it passes over and disappears. sRef

In a word, faith in an invisible God is actually blind, since the human mind fails to see its God; and the light of that faith, not being a spiritual-natural faith, is a fatuous light; which light is like that of the glow-worm, or like that seen above marshes or sulphurous glebes at night, or like the phosphorescence of rotten wood. From that light nothing comes except what pertains to fantasy, which creates a belief that the apparent is the real, when yet it is not. Faith in an invisible God shines with no other light than this, especially when God is thought to be a Spirit, and spirit is thought to be like ether. What follows but that man regards God as he does the ether? Consequently he seeks God in the universe; and when he does not find Him there, he believes the nature of the universe to be God. This is the origin of the prevailing naturalism of the day. Did not the Lord say,
That no one ever heard the Father's voice or saw His shape? (John 5:37);
and also,
That no man hath seen God at any time, but that the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father hath revealed Him (John 1:18).
No man hath seen the Father, save He who is with the Father, He hath seen the Father (John 6:46).
Also that no one cometh unto the Father, but through Him (John 14:8).
That He who sees and knows Him sees and knows the Father (John 14:7-12).
But faith in the Lord God the Savior is different; He, being God and Man, can be approached and be seen in thought. Faith in Him is not indeterminate, but has an object from which and to which it proceeds and when once received is permanent, as when anyone has seen an emperor or king, as often as the fact is recalled the image returns. That faith's sight is like one's seeing a bright cloud, and in the midst of it an angel who invites the man to him, so that he may be raised up into heaven. Thus does the Lord appear to those who have faith in Him; He draws near to every man so far as man recognizes and acknowledges Him, which he does, so far as he knows and keeps the Lord's commandments, which are, to shun evils and do good; and at length the Lord comes into man's house, and together with the Father who is in Him, makes His abode with man, according to these words in John:
Jesus said, He that hath My commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me; and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him and will manifest Myself to him and We will come unto him and make Our abode with him (14:21, 23).
The foregoing was written in the presence of the Lord's twelve apostles, who were sent to me by the Lord while I was writing it.

(True Christian Religion 337-339)

April 26, 2024

. . . Until They Exist In Works

Selection from True Christian Religion ~ Emanuel Swedenborg


Has not a man a head and a body which are joined together by a neck? And in the head is there not a mind that wills and thinks, and in the body is there not power that performs and executes? Therefore if man merely wills well, or thinks from charity, and does not do good and thus perform uses, is he not like a head only, and thus like a mind only, which apart from a body cannot continue to exist? From this is not anyone able to see that charity and faith are not charity and faith so long as they are merely in the head and its mind but not in the body? For they are then like birds flying in the air without any resting-place on the earth, or like birds ready to lay, but having no nests, in which case they would drop their eggs in the air or upon the branch of some tree, and the eggs would fall to the ground and be destroyed. There can be nothing in the mind that does not have some correspondent in the body, and its correspondent may be called its embodiment. So when charity and faith occupy the mind only, they have no embodiment in the man, and may be likened to those aerial beings called specters, like Fame, as painted by the ancients with a laurel about her head and a horn in her hand. Being such specters, and still being able to think, they must needs be disturbed by fantasies, which are caused by reasonings from various kinds of sophistry*, almost as reeds in marshes are shaken by the wind, while beneath them shells lie at the bottom and frogs croak on the surface. Who cannot see that such things come to pass when men merely know from the Word some things about charity and faith, but do not practice them? Moreover, the Lord says:
Everyone who heareth My words and doeth them I will liken to a prudent man who built his house upon a rock, and everyone who heareth My words and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man who built his house upon the sand, or upon the ground without a foundation (Matt. 7:24, 26; Luke 6:47-49).
Charity and faith with their factitious ideas when not put in practice may be compared to butterflies in the air, which a sparrow darts upon and devours as soon as he sees them. The Lord also says:
The sower went forth to sow; and some fell upon the hard way, and the birds came and devoured them up (Matt. 13:3, 4).
That charity and faith do not profit a man so long as they remain only in one part of his body, that is, in his head, and are not fixed in works, is evident from a thousand passages in the Word, of which I will here adduce only these:
Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire (Matt. 7:19-21).
He that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the Word and attendeth, who also beareth fruit and bringeth forth. And when Jesus had said these things, He cried, saying, Who hath ears to hear, let him hear (Matt. 13:3-9, 23, 43).
Jesus said, My mother and My brethren are these who hear the Word of God and do it (Luke 8:21).
Now we know that God heareth not sinners but if any man be a worshiper of God, and doeth His will, him He heareth (John 9:31).
If ye know these things, blessed are ye if ye do them (John 13:17).
He that hath My commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me, and I will love him and will manifest Myself to him; and will come unto him and make My abode with him (John 14:15-21, 23).
Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit (John 15:8, 16).
For not the hearers of the law shall be justified by God, but the doers of the law (Rom. 2:13; James 1:22).
In the day of wrath and of righteous judgment God will render to every man according to his deeds (Rom. 2:5, 6).
For we must all be made manifest before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body according to what he hath done, whether good or bad (2 Cor. 5:10).
For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father, and then He shall render unto everyone according to his deeds (Matt. 16:27).
I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from henceforth; Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow with them (Apoc. 14:13).
A Book was opened, which is the Book of life and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the Book; every man according to his works (Apoc. 20:12, 13).
Behold I come quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give every man according to his work (Apoc. 22:12).
Jehovah, whose eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men, to give to everyone according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his works (Jer. 22:19).
I will punish him according to his ways, and will recompense him for his works (Hos. 4:9).
According to our ways, and according to our works Jehovah does with us (Zech. 1:6).
So also in many other passages. From this it can be seen that charity and faith are not charity and faith until they exist in works, and that while they exist only in the expanse above works, that is, in the mind, they are like appearances of a tabernacle or temple in the air, which are nothing but a mirage, and vanish of themselves; or they are like pictures drawn on paper which moths consume; or they are like an abode on a housetop where there is no sleeping-place, instead of in the house. All this shows that charity and faith are perishable things so long as they are merely mental or unless they are determined to works and coexist in them when possible.

(True Christian Religion 375-376)

* sophistry - a deliberately invalid argument displaying ingenuity in reasoning in the hope of deceiving someone.

April 23, 2024

A Covenant and A Testimony

Selection from True Christian Religion ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

It is known that the Law promulgated from Mount Sinai was written upon two tables, one of which related to God and the other to men; that in the hands of Moses they were one table, the writing on the right side of which related to God, and that on the left to men; and that when so presented to the eyes of men the writing on both sides was seen at the same time, thus one side was in view of the other, like Jehovah talking to Moses and Moses to Jehovah, face to face, as it is written. This was done in order that the tables so united might represent the conjunction of God with men, and the reciprocal conjunction of men with God; and this is why the written law was called a Covenant and a Testimony, "covenant" signifying conjunction, and "testimony" life according to the compact.

These two tables so united exhibit the conjunction of love to God with love towards the neighbor. The first table includes all things pertaining to love to God, which are, primarily, that man should acknowledge the one God, the Divinity of His Human, and the holiness of the Word, and that God is to be worshiped through the holy things that proceed from Him. ... The second table includes all things pertaining to love towards the neighbor, its first five commandments all things pertaining to action, which are called works, and the last two all things pertaining to the will, thus to charity in its origin; for in these it is said, "Thou shalt not covet," and when man does not covet what belongs to his neighbor, he wishes well to him. That the ten commandments of the Decalogue contain all things pertaining to love to God and all things pertaining to love towards the neighbor - there is a conjunction of the two tables in those who are in charity.

It is different with those who merely worship God, and do not at the same time do good works from charity. These are like those who violate covenants. It is different again with those who divide God into three and worship each one separately; and still different with those who do not approach God in His Human; these are such
As enter not by the door, but climb up some other way (John 10:1, 9).
It is also different with those who from confirmation deny the Lord's Divinity. With all of these there is no conjunction with God, and therefore no salvation; and their charity is nothing but spurious charity, and this does not effect conjunction by the face, but by the side or back.

How conjunction is effected shall be told in a few words. —

With every man God flows into man's knowledge of Him with acknowledgment of Him, and at the same time flows in with His love towards men. The man who receives in the former way only, and not in the latter, receives that influx in the understanding and not in the will, and remains in knowledge of God without an interior acknowledgment of God; and his state is like that of a garden in winter. But the man who receives in both ways, receives the influx in the will and from that in the understanding, thus in the whole mind, and he has an interior acknowledgment of God which vivifies in him the knowledges of God; and his state is like that of a garden in spring.

Conjunction is effected by charity, because God loves every man, and as He cannot do good to man immediately, but only mediately through men, He inspires men with His own love, as He inspires parents with love for their children; and the man who receives that love has conjunction with God, and from God's love loves his neighbor; and in him God's love is within man's love towards the neighbor, and produces in him the will and the ability.

Moreover, as man does nothing that is good unless it appears to him that the ability, the will, and the doing are from himself, this appearance is granted him; and when he does good from freedom as if of himself, it is imputed to him, and is accepted as the reciprocation by which conjunction is effected. This is like active and passive, and that cooperation of the passive which is effected from the active in the passive. It is also like will in doing, and like thought in words, the soul operating from the inmost into both. It is also like effort in motion; and like the prolific in seed, which from the interior operates in the juices through which the tree grows even to fruit, and through fruit produces new seed. It is also like light in precious stones which is reflected according to the texture of the parts, producing various colors, belonging apparently to the stones, but in fact to the light.

This makes clear the origin and the nature of the conjunction of love to God and love towards the neighbor, as being the influx of God's love for men, the reception of which by man and his cooperation therewith being love towards the neighbor. In a word, conjunction is effected in accordance with this saying of the Lord:
At that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you (John 14:20).
Also according to this,
He that hath My commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself unto him; and We will make abode with him (John 14:21-23).
All of the Lord's commandments have relation to love towards the neighbor, and in a word they are not doing evil to the neighbor, but doing good to him. That those who do this love God and God loves them, is in accordance with these words of the Lord. Because such is the conjunction of these two loves, John says:
He that keepeth the commandments of Jesus Christ abideth in Him and He in him. If a man say, I love God, but hateth his brother, he is a liar; for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from Him, That he who loveth God should love his brother also (1 John 3:24; 4:20, 21)

(True Christian Religion 456-458)

April 22, 2024

The Happiness of Eternal Life

Selection from Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

And Zilpah Leah's handmaid bare a second son to Jacob. And Leah said, In my blessedness; for the daughters will call me blessed; and she called his name Asher. Genesis 30:12-13
From And Leah said, In my blessedness; for the daughters will call me blessed:

That this signifies in the supreme sense eternity; in the internal sense, the happiness of eternal life; and in the external sense, the delight of the affections, is evident from the signification of "blessedness," and from the signification of "the daughters will call me blessed."

That "blessedness" in the supreme sense is eternity, cannot be seen except from the correspondence with the things in man; for things that are Divine, or that are infinite, are not apprehended except from finite things of which man can form some idea. Without an idea derived from finite things, and especially an idea from the things of space and time, man can comprehend nothing of Divine things, and still less of the Infinite. Without an idea of space and time man cannot have any thought at all; for in respect to his body he is in time, and thus in respect to his thoughts which are from the external senses; whereas the angels, not being in time and space, have ideas of state, and therefore spaces and times in the Word signify states.

There are two states, namely, a state that corresponds to space and a state that corresponds to time. The state that corresponds to space is state as to being; and the state that corresponds to time is state as to coming forth. For there are two things that make man, namely, being and coming forth.

Man's being is nothing else than a recipient of the eternal which proceeds from the Lord; for men, spirits, and angels are nothing but recipients, or forms recipient, of life from the Lord. The reception of life is that of which coming forth is predicated. Man believes that he is, and this of himself; when yet it is not true that he is of himself; but that as before said, he comes forth. Being is solely in the Lord, and is called "Jehovah." From being, which is Jehovah, are all things which appear to be [sicut sint]. But the Lord's being, or Jehovah, can never be communicated to anyone; but solely to the Lord's Human. This was made the Divine being, that is, Jehovah.

Coming forth also is predicated of the Lord; but only when He was in the world, where He put on the Divine.* But since He has become the Divine being, coming forth can no longer be predicated of Him, except as a something that proceeds from Him. That which proceeds from Him is that which appears as the coming forth in Him; yet it is not in Him, but is from Him, and causes men, spirits, and angels to come forth; that is, to live. In man, spirit, and angel, coming forth is living; and his living is eternal happiness. The happiness of eternal life is that to which in the supreme sense eternity, which is from the Lord's Divine being, corresponds. That the happiness of eternal life is that which is signified by "blessedness" in the internal sense, and by the delight of the affections in the external sense, is manifest without explication.

But that which is here signified is - the delight of the affections of truth and good that corresponds to the happiness of eternal life.

All affections have their delights; but such as are the affections, such are the delights. The affections of evil and falsity also have their delights; and before a man begins to be regenerated, and to receive from the Lord the affections of truth and good, these delights appear to be the only ones; so much so that men believe that no other delights exist; and consequently that if they were deprived of these, they would utterly perish. But they who receive from the Lord the delights of the affections of truth and good, gradually see and perceive the nature of the delights of their former life, which they had believed to be the only delights - that they are relatively vile, and indeed filthy. And the further a man advances into the delight of the affections of truth and good, the more does he begin to regard the delights of evil and falsity as vile; and at last to hold them in aversion.

I have sometimes spoken with those in the other life who had been in the delights of evil and falsity; and I have been permitted to tell them that they have no life until they are deprived of their delights. But they said (as say such persons in the world) that if they should be deprived of them, nothing of life would be left them. But I was permitted to reply that life then first begins, together with such happiness as there is in heaven, which in comparison with that of their former delights is unutterable. But this they could not apprehend, because what is unknown is believed to be nothing.

It is the same with all in the world who are in the love of self and of the world, and therefore in no charity. They know the delight of these loves, but not the delight of charity. Thus they are altogether ignorant of what charity is, and still more that there is any delight in charity; when yet the delight of charity is that which fills the universal heaven, and constitutes the blessedness and happiness there; and if you will to believe it, it constitutes the intelligence and wisdom also, together with their delights; for into the delights of charity the Lord inflows with the light of truth and the flame of good, and with the derivative intelligence and wisdom. But falsities and evils reject, suffocate, and pervert these delights, and hence come folly and insanity. From all this it is evident what is the nature and quality of the delight of the affections, and that it corresponds to the happiness of eternal life.

The man of this age believes that if at the hour of death he merely has the confidence of faith, he can get into heaven no matter in what affection he may have lived during the whole course of his life. I have sometimes spoken with those who have so lived, and have so believed. When they come into the other life, they at first have no other idea than that they may enter into heaven, without any regard to their past life, in which they had put on the delight of the affection of evil and falsity from the loves of self and of the world, which had been their ends. I have been permitted to tell them that everyone can be admitted into heaven, because heaven is denied by the Lord to no one; but whether they can live there they can know when admitted. Some who firmly believed that they could, have also been admitted. But as the life there is that of love to the Lord and of love toward the neighbor, which constitutes all the sphere and happiness of the life there, on coming into it they began to be distressed, not being able to breathe in such a sphere, and they then began to perceive the filthiness of their affections, thus to feel infernal torment. In consequence of this they cast themselves headlong down, saying that they desired to be far away, and marveling that that was heaven which to them was hell. This shows what is the nature of the one delight, and what is that of the other; and that they who are in the delight of the affections of evil and falsity can by no means be among those who are in the delight of the affection of good and truth; and that these delights are opposite to each other, as are heaven and hell.

Furthermore, as regards the happiness of eternal life: during his life in the world the man who is in the affection of good and truth cannot perceive it, but a certain delight in its stead. The reason of this is that while in the body he is in worldly cares and consequent anxieties that prevent the happiness of eternal life (which is deep within him) from then being manifested in any other way. For when this happiness inflows from within into the cares and anxieties that are with the man outwardly, it sinks down among the cares and anxieties there, and becomes a kind of obscure delight; but still it is a delight within which there is blessedness, and within this happiness. Such is the happiness of being content in God. But when a man is divested of his body, and at the same time of these worldly cares and anxieties, the happiness which had lain hidden in obscurity within his interior man comes forth and reveals itself.

As affection is so often spoken of, let us state what is meant by affection. —

Affection is nothing else than love, but is what is continuous of it. For from love a man is affected either with evil and falsity, or with good and truth. As this love is present and is within all things in general and particular that belong to him, it is not perceived as love, but is varied according to its matter in hand, and according to the man's states and their changes; and this continually in everything that he wills, thinks, and does. It is this continuous of love that is called affection; and it is this continuous that reigns in a man's life and makes all his delight, and consequently his very life; for man's life is nothing else than the delight of his affection; and thus is nothing else than the affection of his love. Love is man's willing, and derivatively is his thinking, and thereby his acting.

(from Arcana Coelestia 3938)

Editor: In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) John 7:37-39