October 12, 2019

The Conjunction of Good and Truth in the Genuine Rational

Selection from Arcana Coelesita ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
It is to be known concerning the rational man in general that it is said to receive life, to be in the womb, and to be born, when the man begins to think that the evil and falsity in himself is that which contradicts and is opposed to truth and good, and still more is this the case when he wills to remove and subjugate this evil and falsity. Unless he can perceive and become sensible of this, he has no rational, however much he may imagine that he has.  For the rational is the medium that unites the internal man with the external, and thereby perceives from the Lord what is going on in the external man, and reduces the external man to obedience, nay, elevates it from the corporeal and earthly things in which it immerses itself, and causes the man to be man, and to look to heaven to which he belongs by birth; and not, as do brute animals, solely to the earth in which he is merely a sojourner, still less to hell. These are the offices of the rational, and therefore a man cannot be said to have any rational unless he is such that he can think in this manner; and whether the rational is coming into existence is known from his life in his use or function.

To reason against good and truth, while they are denied at heart, and only known by hearing about them, is not to have a rational, for many can do this who openly rush without any restraint into all wickedness. The only difference is that those who suppose that they have a rational and have it not, maintain a certain decorum in their discourse and act from a pretended honorableness, in which they are held by external bonds, such as fear of the law, of the loss of property, of honor, of reputation, and of life. If these bonds, which are external, were to be taken away, some of these men would rave more insanely than those who rush into wickedness without restraint, so that no one can be said to have a rational merely because he can reason. The fact is that those who have no rational usually discourse from the things of sense and of memory-knowledge much more skillfully than those who have it.

This is very clearly evident from evil spirits in the other life, who although accounted as being preeminently rational while they have lived in the body, yet when the external bonds which caused their decorum of discourse and their pretended honorableness of life are taken away, as is usual with all in the other life, they are more insane than those who in this world are openly so, for they rush into all wickedness without horror, fear, or shame. Not so those who while they lived in this world had been rational, for when the external bonds are taken away from them, they are still more sane, because they have had internal bonds - bonds of conscience - by which the Lord kept their thoughts bound to the laws of truth and good, which were their rational principles.
(from Arcana Coelestia 1944)
The genuine rational is from good, but comes forth [existit] from truth.

     • Good flows in by an internal way; but truth by an external way.

Good thus conjoins itself with truth in the rational, and they cause the rational to be. Unless the good therein is conjoined with truth, there is no rational; although there appears to be, because the man can reason (see above). This is the common way in which the rational is formed with man.
The good itself of the rational, which is formed by the internal way, is the very ground; but truth is the seed which is to be sown in this ground. The genuine rational is never born in any other way. ...
[G]ood itself flows into the natural through the rational, thus by an internal way, and enlightens the things which are therein; whereas truth itself inflows into the natural through the sensuous part, especially that of hearing and sight, and thus by an external way. Truth has its rise from this source, as may be known to everyone who reflects; but the conjunction of good and truth is not there, but is in the rational; therefore truth is called forth therefrom, thus out of the natural sphere into the spiritual; for the truth that is to be conjoined with good is spiritual.
(Excerpts from Arcana Coelestia 3030, 3098)
[Revisions by Ed.]

October 5, 2019

First in End is that To Which All Things Look

Selection from True Christian Religion ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
Every man individually is the neighbor who is to be loved, but according to the quality of his good.

Man is born not for the sake of himself but for the sake of others; that is, he is born not to live for himself alone but for others; otherwise there could be no cohesive society, nor any good therein.

It is a common saying that every man is a neighbor to himself; but the doctrine of charity teaches how this is to be understood, namely, that everyone should provide for himself the necessaries of life, as food, clothing, a dwelling, and other things which are necessarily required in the social life in which he is, and this not only for himself, but also for his family, nor for the present alone, but also for the future. For unless a man acquires for himself the necessaries of life, he is not in a condition to exercise charity, since he is in want of everything.

But how every man ought to be a neighbor to himself may be seen from the following comparison: Every man ought to provide his body with food; this must be first, but the end should be that he may have a sound mind in a sound body; and every man ought to provide his mind with food, namely, with such things as pertain to intelligence and judgment; but the end should be that he may thereby be in a state to serve his fellow-citizens, society, his country, the church, and thus the Lord. He who does this provides well for himself to eternity.

From this it is plain what is first in time, and what is first in end, and that the first in end is that to which all things look. It is also like building a house; first the foundation must be laid; but the foundation must be for the house, and the house for a dwelling place.

He who believes himself to be a neighbor to himself in the first place or primarily, is like one who regards the foundation, not the dwelling, as the end; and yet the dwelling is itself the first and the last end, and the house with its foundation is only a means to the end.
(True Christian Religion 406)
(Emphasis added)

September 28, 2019

The Firstborn in the Mind

Selection from True Christian Religion ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
From the wisdom of the ancients came forth this tenet - that the universe and each and all things therein relate to good and truth; and thus that all things pertaining to the church relate to love or charity and faith, since everything that flows forth from love or charity is called good, and everything that flows forth from faith is called true.

Since then charity and faith are distinguishably two, and yet make one in man, that he may be a man of the church, that is, that the church may be in him, it was a matter of controversy and dispute among the ancients, which one of the two should be first, and which therefore is by right to be called the firstborn. Some of them said that truth is first and consequently faith; and some good, and consequently charity. For they saw that immediately after birth man learns to talk and think, and is thereby perfected in understanding, which is done by means of knowledges, and by this means he learns and understands what is true; and afterwards by means of this he learns and understands what is good; consequently, that he first learns what faith is, and afterward what charity is. Those who so comprehended this subject, supposed that the truth of faith was the firstborn, and that good of charity was born afterwards; for which reason they gave to faith the eminence and prerogative of primogeniture.

But those who so reasoned overwhelmed their own understandings with such a multitude of arguments in favor of faith, as not to see that faith is not faith unless it is conjoined with charity, and that charity is not charity unless conjoined with faith, and thus that they make one, and if not so conjoined, neither of them is anything in the church. That they do completely make one, will be shown in what follows.

But in these prefatory remarks I will show briefly how or in what respect they make one.... Faith, by which is also meant truth, is first in time; while charity, by which is also meant good, is first in end; and that which is first in end, is actually first, because it is primary, therefore also it is the firstborn, while that which is first in time, is not actually first, but only apparently so.

But to make this understood, it shall be illustrated by comparisons with the building of a temple, and of a house, the laying out of a garden, and the preparation of a field. In the building of a temple, the first thing in time is to lay the foundation, erect the walls and put on the roof; then to put in the altar and rear the pulpit; while the first thing in end is the worship of God therein, for the sake of which the preceding work is done. In the building of a house, the first thing in time is to build its outside parts, and also to furnish it with various articles of necessity; while the first thing in end is a suitable dwelling for the man and the others who are to constitute his household. In the laying out of a garden, the first thing in time is to level the ground, prepare the soil, and plant trees in it and sow in it the seeds of such things as will be of use; while the first thing in end is the use of its products. In the preparation of a field, the first thing in time is to smooth, plough and harrow it, and then to sow it; while the first thing in end is the crop; thus again, use.

From these comparisons anyone may conclude what is essentially first. Does not everyone who wishes to build a temple or a house, or to lay out a garden, or cultivate a field, first intend some use? And does he not continually keep this in his mind and meditate upon it while he is procuring the means to it? We therefore conclude that the truth of faith is first in time, but that the good of charity is first in end; and that this latter, because it is primary, is actually the firstborn in the mind.
(True Christian Religion 336)
(revised by Ed.)

September 22, 2019

The "First-Born" ~ The Primary of the Church

Selection from Apocalypse Revealed ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
The first-born from the dead, signifies that He is the Divine Good itself. 

What "the first-born from the dead" means, no one as yet knows; and the ancients disputed what it signifies. They knew that by "the first-born" is signified what is first and primary, from which is the all of the church; and it was believed by many, that it was truth in doctrine and in faith; but by few, that it was truth in act and work, which is the good of life. That this is the first and primary of the church, and thence in the proper sense is meant by "the first-born," will be seen presently. But first something shall be said concerning the opinion of those who believed, that truth in doctrine and in faith is the first and primary of the church, thus the first-born. They believed this, because it is learned first, and because a church is a church by means of truth, though not before it is of the life. Previously it is only in the thought of the understanding, and in the memory, and not in the act of the will; and truth, which is not truth in act or work, does not live. It is only like a luxuriant tree having branches and leaves without fruit. And it is like knowledge without application to use; and like the foundation upon which a house is built in which one is to dwell. These things are first in time, but they are not first in end; and what are first in end are primary; for habitation in the house is the first in end, but the foundation is the first in time; use also is first in end, and knowledge is first in time; in like manner the first in end, when a tree is planted, is the fruit, but the first in time are the branches and leaves.

With the understanding it is similar, which is formed in man first, but to the end that what a man sees with his understanding, he may do; otherwise the understanding is like a preacher, who teaches well, but lives wickedly. Moreover all truth is sown in the internal man, and rooted in the external; wherefore, unless the truth that is inseminated takes root in the external man, which is effected by doing, it becomes like a tree planted, not in the soil, but upon it, which immediately withers on exposure to the heat of the sun. The man who has done the truth, takes this root with him after death; but not the man who had only known and acknowledged it in faith. Now because many of the ancients made that which is first in time, the first also in end, that is, primary; therefore they said, that the first-born signified truth in doctrine and faith in the church; not knowing that this is the first-born apparently, but not actually.

But all those who have made truth in doctrine and in faith the primary, are condemned, because there is nothing of deed or work, or nothing of life in that truth.

• Therefore Cain, who was the first-born of Adam and Eve, was condemned. That by him is signified truth in doctrine and in faith, may be seen in the Angelic Wisdom concerning the Divine Providence (n. 242).
• Therefore, also Reuben, who was the first-born of Jacob, was condemned by his father (Genesis 49:3-4), and his birthright was taken from him (1 Chron. 5:1). That by "Reuben" in the spiritual sense, is meant truth in doctrine and in faith....
• By "the first-born of Egypt," who were all smitten, because condemned, nothing else is meant in the spiritual sense, than truth in doctrine and in faith separate from the good of life, which truth is in itself dead.
• By the "goats" in Daniel and in Matthew, no others are meant than those who are in faith separate from life, concerning whom see The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning Faith (n. 61-68).
• That those who were in faith separate from life, were rejected and condemned about the time of the Last Judgment, may be seen in The Continuation concerning the Last Judgment (n. 16, seq.).

From these few things it may appear that truth in doctrine and in faith is not the first-born of the church; but truth in act or work, which is the good of life; for the church is not with man until the truth becomes of the life, and when the truth becomes of the life, then it is good; for the thought of the understanding, and the memory, do not flow into the will, and through the will into act; but the will flows into the thought of the understanding, and into the memory, and acts. And what proceeds from the will, through the understanding, proceeds from affection, which is of love, through the thought, which is of the understanding, and all this is called good, and it enters into the life; wherefore the Lord saith, that:

He who doeth the truth, doeth it in God (John 3:21).

Because John represents the good of life, and Peter the truth of faith, as may be seen above (n. 5), therefore:

• John leaned on the Lord's breast, and followed Jesus, but not Peter (John 21:18-21).
• The Lord also said of John, that "he should tarry till He came" (verse 22-23);  thus to this day, which is the Lord's coming; the good of life is therefore now taught by the Lord for those who will be of His New Church, which is the New Jerusalem.

In a summary, that is the first-born which the truth first produces from good, thus what the understanding produces from the will; because truth is of the understanding, and good is of the will: this first is primary, because it is as the seed from which the rest proceed.

As to the Lord He is the First-born from the dead, because He, as to His Human, is the truth itself united to the Divine good, from whom all men live, who in themselves are dead.

The same is meant in David:  I will make Him the first-born higher than the kings of the earth (Ps. 89:27).  This is concerning the Lord's Human. Thence it is that Israel is called the first-born (Exod. 4:22, 23). By "Israel" is meant the truth in act, and by "Jacob" the truth in doctrine; and because there is no church from the latter alone, therefore Jacob was named Israel; but in the supreme sense by "Israel" is meant the Lord. On account of this representation of the "first-born," all the first-born and all the first fruits were sanctified to Jehovah (Exod. 13:2, 12; 22:28, 29).

On account of this representation of the "first-born," the Levites were taken instead of all the first-born in the Israelitish church; and it is said that thereby they belonged to Jehovah (Num. 3:12, 13, 40-46; 18:15-18): for by "Levi" is signified truth in act, which is the good of life; and therefore the priesthood was given to his posterity.... For the same reason a double portion of the inheritance was given to the first-born, and he was called "the beginning of strength" (Deut. 21:15-17).

The "first-born" signifies the primary of the church, because in the Word by natural births, spiritual births are signified, and then what first produces them in man, is meant by his "first-born;" for there is no church with him, until the truth of doctrine conceived in the internal man is born in the external.
(Apocalypse Revealed 17)
[emphasis by Ed.]

September 16, 2019

The Priority Belongs to Good and Not to Truth

Excerpt from Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
[W]hen man draws a conclusion from natural perception, he believes that faith, insofar as it is truth of doctrine, is prior to charity insofar as this is good of life, because he perceives how the truth of doctrine enters, but not how the good of life — for the former (truth of doctrine) enters by an external, that is, a sensuous way, while the latter (good of life) enters by an internal way . . .

• also because he cannot know otherwise than that as truth teaches what is good, it is prior to good
• also because the reformation of man is effected through truth and according to truth, insomuch that man is perfected as to good in proportion to the amount of truth that can be conjoined with it, consequently good is perfected through truth
• because man can be in truth, and think and speak from it, and this with apparent zeal, although he is not at the same time in good; yea, he may even from truth be confident of his salvation.

These and many other considerations lead man to suppose, when judging from the sensuous and natural man, that the truth which is of faith is prior to the good which is of charity; but all these are reasonings from fallacies, based on the appearance to the sensuous and natural man.

The good itself which is of life is prior — the good which is of life being the very ground in which truths are to be sown
such as is the ground, such is the reception of the seeds, that is, of the truths of faith
Truths may indeed be first stored up in the memory, like seeds in a granary, or with birds in their crops; but they do not belong to the man unless the ground is prepared; and such as is the ground, that is, such as is the good, such is their germination and fructification.
(Arcana Coelestia 3324)

September 10, 2019


for the
Emanuel Swedenborg
Doctrinal Series
(pt. 114)
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.
(LIFE 114)

September 9, 2019

THE DOCTRINE OF LIFE (pt. 112 - 113)

for the
Emanuel Swedenborg
Doctrinal Series
(pt. 112 - 113)
There are various and many causes that make a man moral in the outward form, but unless he is moral in the inward form also, he is nevertheless not moral.

For example: It is the same with thefts and frauds of every kind, with murders and revengeful acts of every kind, and with false witness and lies of every kind.

No one can of himself be cleansed and made pure from such things,— for within every concupiscence there are infinite things which the man sees only as one simple thing, whereas the Lord sees the smallest details of the whole series.

In a word, a man cannot regenerate himself, that is, form in himself a new heart and a new spirit, but the Lord alone can do this, who Himself is the Reformer and the Regenerator. Therefore if a man wills to make himself new by his own sagacity and intelligence, it is merely like painting an ugly face, or smearing a skin detergent over a part that is infected with inward corruption.

Therefore the Lord says in Matthew:
Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup and the platter, that the outside may be clean also (Matt. 23:26).

And in Isaiah:
• Wash you, make you clean, put away the evil of your works from before Mine eyes, cease to do evil; and then though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow, though they have been red like crimson, they shall be as wool (Isa. 1:16, 18).
(LIFE 112 - 113)