January 31, 2015

Seeing and Touching the 'First' Threshold of Wisdom

Selection from Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
Among the ancients, who were in congruent rituals, the feasts that were made in the evening, that is, the suppers, signified nothing else than the state of initiation which precedes conjunction, which state relatively to the state of conjunction is obscure. For during man's initiation into truth and thence into good, all that he learns is obscure to him; but when good is being conjoined with him, and he regards truth therefrom, it then becomes clear to him, and this successively more and more; for now he is no longer in doubt as to whether a thing exists, or whether it is so; but he knows that it exists, and that it is so.

When man is in this state, he then begins to know innumerable things, for he now proceeds from the good and truth which he believes and perceives as from a center to the circumferences; and in proportion as he proceeds, in the same proportion he sees the things which are round about, and successively more and more widely, for he is constantly pushing out and widening the boundaries. Thenceforth also he commences from every subject in the space within the boundaries; and from these as from new centers he throws out new circumferences, and so on. In this way the light of truth from good increases immeasurably, and becomes like a continuous lucidity, for the man is then in the light of heaven, which is from the Lord. But with those who are in doubt and in discussion as to whether a thing exists, and whether it is so, these innumerable, nay, illimitable things do not appear one whit; to them all things in both general and particular are utterly obscure, and are scarcely regarded as one really existing thing, but rather as one thing the existence of which is doubtful. In such a state is human wisdom and intelligence at this day, when he is deemed wise who can reason with ingenuity as to whether a thing exists; and he is deemed still wiser who can reason that it does not exist.

For example take the proposition that there is an internal sense of the Word, which is called mystical: until this is believed, it is impossible for men to know the least of the innumerable things which are in the internal sense, and which are so many as to fill the whole heaven with an infinite variety.

Another example is that the man who reasons concerning the Divine Providence, as to whether it is only universal, and not in the singulars, cannot possibly know the innumerable arcana of Providence, which are as many in number as are the contingencies of everyone's life from first to last, and from the creation of the world to its end; nay, even to eternity.

Again: he who reasons as to whether it is possible for anyone to be in good, seeing that the will of man is radically depraved, can never know all the arcana relating to regeneration, nor even that a new will is implanted by the Lord, nor the arcana relating to this implantation; and so with everything else. From this it may be known in what obscurity such persons are, and that they do not even see, much less touch, the first threshold of wisdom.
(Arcana Coelestia 3833)

January 27, 2015

Truth, the Form of Good

A Portion of a Passage in Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
... no truth can be produced unless there is a good or delight from which it is.  In good and in delight there is life; but not in truth, except that which it has from good and delight.  From this, truth is formed and begotten, and so is faith, which is of truth, formed and begotten by love, which is of good.  It is with truth exactly as it is with light: except from the sun or a flame there is no light; it is from this that light is formed.  Truth is only the form of good; and faith is only the form of love. Truth is formed from good according to the quality of the good, and faith is formed from love according to the quality of the love or charity.
(Arcana Coelestia 668)

January 26, 2015

Faith Cometh By Hearing

Selections from Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
There are two lives in man; one is of the will, the other of the understanding.  They become two lives when there is no will, but cupidity in place of a will.  Then it is the other or intellectual part that can be reformed; and afterwards through this a new will can be given, so that the two may still constitute one life, namely, charity and faith....

The case is this: When a man is being reformed, which is effected by combats and temptations, such evil spirits are associated with him as excite nothing but his things of knowledge and reason [scientifica ejus et rationalia]; and spirits that excite cupidities are kept entirely away from him.  For there are two kinds of evil spirits, those who act upon man's reasonings, and those who act upon his cupidities.  The evil spirits who excite a man's reasonings bring forth all his falsities, and endeavor to persuade him that they are true, and even turn truths into falsities.  A man must fight against these when he is in temptation; but it is really the Lord who fights, through the angels who are adjoined to the man.  As soon as the falsities are separated, and as it were dispersed, by these combats, the man is prepared to receive the truths of faith.  For so long as falsities prevail, a man never can receive the truths of faith, because the principles of falsity stand in the way.  When he has thus been prepared to receive the truths of faith, then for the first time can celestial seeds be implanted in him, which are the seeds of charity.  The seeds of charity can never be implanted in ground where falsities reign, but only where truths reign.  Thus is it with the reformation or regeneration of the spiritual man....

This agrees with what is at this day known in the churches: that faith comes by hearing.  But faith is by no means the knowledge [cognitio] of the things that are of faith, or that are to be believed.  This is only memory-knowledge [scientia]; whereas faith is acknowledgment.  There can however be no acknowledgment with anyone unless the principal of faith is in him, which is charity, that is, love toward the neighbor and mercy.  When there is charity, then there is acknowledgment, or faith.  He who apprehends otherwise is as far away from a knowledge of faith as earth is from heaven.  When charity is present, which is the goodness of faith, then acknowledgment is present, which is the truth of faith.  When therefore a man is being regenerated according to the things of knowledge, of reason, and of understanding, it is to the end that the ground may be prepared - that is, his mind - for receiving charity; from which, or from the life of which, he thereafter thinks and acts.  Then he is reformed or regenerated, and not before.
(Arcana Coelestia 652 - 654)

January 23, 2015

Why Humiliation and Submission Must Be In Presence of the Divine When Man is in Worship

A Portion of a Passage in Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
They who are not in the knowledge of interior things cannot believe otherwise than that the Divine wills the humiliation and submission of man, as a man does who is in the lust of glory; and consequently that the Divine wills glory therefrom, and is affected with the glory which man ascribes to Him. But the case is altogether different.

The Divine is not in any affection of glory, for what glory has the Divine from man?

But He wills humiliation and submission, not for His own, but for man's sake.  For when man is in humiliation he feels aversion for the evil and falsity in him, and thus removes them, and on their removal the Divine can flow in with good and truth.  Everyone may be aware of this in himself.  He who is of elated mind is in the love of self, and not only sets himself above others, but also cares nothing for the Divine, and consequently rejects the influx of good, and thence its conjunction with truths.  This is the genuine reason for man's humiliation before the Divine.
(Arcana Coelestia 4347)

January 21, 2015

In All Evil There is Anger Against the Lord and Against the Holy Things of the Church

A Portion of a Passage from Apocalypse Explained ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
The goods and truths of heaven penetrate into the internals only with such as make the holy things of heaven and the church their ends, that is, make them to be of their love, and thence of their intention and will; when these are made ends, then the spiritual mind is opened, and through this man is led by the Lord. But it is the exact opposite when the goods and truths of heaven and the church are not made ends, but means; - ends belong to the ruling love of man - and when this is love of self it is also love of his own [proprium], and this regarded in itself is nothing but evil, and so far as man acts from it he acts from hell, and thus against the Divine.
(Apocalypse Explained 693:3)

January 16, 2015

Divine Good Cannot Do After the Manner of Truth Separated from Good

A Portion of a Passage from Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
... there are two things which constitute the order of the universal heaven, and thence in the universe, namely, Good and Truth. Good is the essential of order, all the things of which are mercies. Truth is the secondary of order, all the things of which are truths. The Divine good adjudges all to heaven, but the Divine truth condemns all to hell; and therefore unless the Lord's Mercy, which is of good, were eternal, all men, however many, would be condemned. This is what is signified by the statement that the Divine good cannot do this after the manner of truth separated from good.

[There are two things which are predicated of the Lord, namely, that He is King, and that He is Priest. A king, or the royalty, signifies the holy which is true; and a priest, or the priesthood, signifies the holy which is good; the former is the Divine spiritual, the latter the Divine celestial.  The Lord as King governs each and all things in the universe from Divine truth; and as Priest, from Divine good.  Divine truth is the very order of His universal kingdom, all the laws of which are truths, or eternal verities; Divine good is the very essential of order, all things of which are of mercy.  Both of these are predicated of the Lord. If Divine truth alone were His, no mortal could be saved, for truths condemn everyone to hell; but Divine good, which is of mercy, uplifts from hell to heaven. These are what the kings and priests in the Jewish Church represented and these likewise Melchizedek represented, as king of Salem, and priest to God Most High. (Arcana Coelestia 1728)]

That the evil are nevertheless condemned to hell, is not because the Divine good is separated from the Divine truth, but because the man separates himself from the Divine good.  For the Lord in no case sends anyone down into hell, but the man sends himself.... 

In the following respect also the Divine good is conjoined with the Divine truth: that unless the evil were separated from the good, the evil would do harm to the good, and would be continually endeavoring to destroy order: thus that the good may not be harmed, is of Mercy. This stands just as in the kingdoms of the earth. If evils were not punished, the whole kingdom would be infected with evils, and so would perish; for which reason kings and judges show more mercy in punishing evils and in expelling from society those guilty of them, than by exercising in their behalf an unseasonable clemency.

(Arcana Coelestia 2258)

Good Cannot Die, Because Evil Can Be Separated From It

A Portion of a Passage from Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
Be it known that all the good a man has thought and done from infancy even to the last of his life, remains; in like manner all the evil, so that not the least of it completely perishes. Both are inscribed on his book of life (that is, on each of his memories), and on his nature (that is, his native disposition and genius).  From these he has formed for himself a life, and so to speak a soul, which after death is of a corresponding quality.  But goods are never so commingled with evils, nor evils with goods, that they cannot be separated; for if they should be commingled, the man would eternally perish.

In relation to this the Lord exercises His providence, and when a man comes into the other life, if he has lived in the good of love and of charity, the Lord then separates his evils, and by what is good with him elevates him into heaven.  But if he has lived in evils, that is, in things contrary to love and charity, the Lord then separates from him what is good, and his evils bring him into hell.  Such is the lot of everyone after death; but it is a separation, and in no wise a complete removal.

Moreover, as the will of man, which is the one part of his life, has been utterly destroyed, the Lord separates this destroyed part from the other which is his intellectual part, and in those who are being regenerated, implants in this intellectual part the good of charity, and through this a new will; these are they who have conscience.

(Arcana Coelestia 2256)

January 14, 2015

To What Purpose is the Doctrine of Faith?

Selection from Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
The church is called spiritual when it acts from charity, or from the good of charity-never when it says that it has faith without charity, for then it is not even a church. For what is the doctrine of faith but the doctrine of charity? And to what purpose is the doctrine of faith, but that men should do what it teaches? It cannot be merely to know and think what it teaches, but only that what it teaches should be done. The spiritual church is therefore first called a church when it acts from charity, which is the very doctrine of faith. Or, what is the same thing, the man of the church is then first a church. Just in the same way, what is a commandment for? not that a man may know, but that he may live according to the commandment. For then he has in himself the kingdom of the Lord, since the kingdom of the Lord consists solely in mutual love and its happiness.

Those who separate faith from charity, and make salvation consist in faith without the good works of charity, are Cainites who slay the brother Abel, that is, charity. And they are like birds which hover about a carcass; for such faith is a bird, and a man without charity is a carcass. Thus they also form for themselves a spurious conscience, so that they may live like devils, hold the neighbor in hatred and persecute him, pass their whole life in adulteries, and yet be saved, as is well known in the Christian world. What can be more agreeable to a man than to hear and be persuaded that he may be saved, even if he live like a wild beast? The very Gentiles perceive that this is false, many of whom abhor the doctrine of Christians because they see their life. The real quality of such a faith is evident also from the fact that nowhere is there found a life more detestable than in the Christian world.

(Arcana Coelestia 916)

January 13, 2015

Alternations of NO Life and of REAL Life in Regeneration

A portion of a passage from Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
When man is being regenerated, he receives life from the Lord; for before this he cannot be said to have lived, the life of the world and of the body not being life, but only that which is heavenly and spiritual. Through regeneration man receives real life from the Lord; and because he had no life before, there is an alternation of no life and of real life, that is, of no faith and charity, and of some faith and charity; no charity and faith being here signified by "cold" and some faith and charity by "heat."

As regards this subject the case is this: Whenever man is in his corporeal and worldly things, there is then no faith and charity, that is, there is "cold" for then corporeal and worldly things, consequently those which are his own, are at work, and so long as the man is in these, he is absent or remote from faith and charity, so that he does not even think about heavenly and spiritual things. The reason of this is that heavenly and corporeal things can never be together in a man, for man's will has been utterly ruined. But when the things of man's body and will are not at work, but are quiescent, then the Lord works through his internal man, and then he is in faith and charity, which is here called "heat." When he again returns into the body he is again in cold; and when the body, or what is of the body, is quiescent, and as nothing, he is then in heat, and so on in alternation. For such is the condition of man that heavenly and spiritual things cannot be in him along with his corporeal and worldly things, but there are alternations. This is what takes place with everyone who is to be regenerated, and it goes on as long as he is in a state of regeneration; for in no other way is it possible for man to be regenerated, that is, from being dead to be made alive, for the reason, as already said, that his will has been utterly ruined, and is therefore completely separated from the new will, which he receives from the Lord and which is the Lord's and not the man's. Hence now it is evident what is here signified by "cold and heat."

That such is the case every regenerated man may know from experience, that is to say, that when he is in corporeal and worldly things, he is absent and remote from internal things, so that he not only takes no thought about them, but feels in himself cold at the thought of them; but that when corporeal and worldly things are quiescent, he is in faith and charity. He may also know from experience that these states alternate, and that therefore when corporeal and worldly things begin to be in excess and to want to rule, he comes into straits and temptations, until he is reduced into such a state that the external man becomes compliant to the internal, a compliance it can never render until it is quiescent and as it were nothing.

The last posterity of the Most Ancient Church could not be regenerated, because - with them the things of the understanding and of the will constituted one mind; and therefore the things of their understanding could not be separated from those of their will, so that they might in this manner be by turns in heavenly and spiritual things, and in corporeal and worldly things; but they had continual cold in regard to heavenly things and continual heat in regard to cupidities, so that they could have no alternation.
(Arcana Coelestia 933)

January 7, 2015

If There Had Been No Word

Selection from True Christian Religion ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
If there were no Word there would be no knowledge of God, of heaven and hell, or of a life after death, still less of the Lord.
As there are some who hold, and who have thoroughly convinced themselves, that man may know without the Word of the existence of God, and of heaven and hell, and of other things taught by the Word; such cannot properly be appealed to from the Word, but only from the light of natural reason, since they do not believe in the Word, but only in themselves. Inquire then, from the light of reason, and you will find that there are in man two faculties of life, which are called understanding and will — the understanding is subject to the will, but not the will to the understanding; for the understanding merely teaches and points out what ought to be done from the will; and for this reason many who are of an acute genius, and who understand better than others the moral principles of life, still do not live according to them; but if their will favored them it would be otherwise. Inquire further, and you will find that man's will is his selfhood [proprium] and that this is evil from birth, and that from this comes the falsity in the understanding. When you have found out these things, you will see that man of himself has no wish to understand anything except what is from the selfhood of his will, and if this were his only source of knowledge, he would have no wish from his will's selfhood to understand anything but what pertains to self and the world; and everything above this would be in thick darkness.  For instance, in looking at the sun, moon, and stars, if he should think about their origin, he could not think otherwise than that they exist from themselves.  Could he raise his thoughts higher than many of the learned in the world, who while knowing from the Word that all things were created by God, yet acknowledge nature?  If these had known nothing from the Word what would they have thought?  Do you suppose that the ancient wise men, such as Aristotle, Cicero, Seneca, and others, who wrote about God and the immortality of the soul, obtained this knowledge primarily from their own understanding? No; they obtained it from others by its having been handed down from those who first knew of it from the ancient Word.... Neither do the writers on Natural Theology derive any such knowledge from themselves; they merely confirm by rational deductions what they knew from the church where the Word is, and possibly some among them confirm and yet do not believe.
(True Christian Religion 273)

January 4, 2015

Not So Difficult to Live the Life of Heaven

Selection from Heaven and Hell ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
It is not so difficult to live the life of heaven as some believe can now be seen from this:
that when any thing presents itself to a man that he knows to be dishonest and unjust, but to which his mind is borne, it is simply necessary for him to think that it ought not to be done because it is opposed to the Divine precepts. If a man accustoms himself so to think, and from so doing establishes a habit of so thinking, he is gradually conjoined to heaven; and so far as he is conjoined to heaven the higher regions of his mind are opened; and so far as these are opened he sees whatever is dishonest and unjust, and so far as he sees these evils they can be dispersed, for no evil can be dispersed until it is seen. Into this state man is able to enter because of his freedom, for is not any one able from his freedom to so think? And when man has made a beginning the Lord quickens all that is good in him, and causes him not only to see evils to be evils, but also to refrain from willing them, and finally to turn away from them. This is meant by the Lord's words,

                    My yoke is easy and My burden is light (Matt. 11:30).

But it must be understood that the difficulty of so thinking and of resisting evils increases so far as man from his will does evils, for in the same measure he becomes accustomed to them until he no longer sees them, and at length loves them and from the delight of his love excuses them, and confirms them by every kind of fallacy, and declares them to be allowable and good. This is the fate of those who in early youth plunge into evils without restraint, and also reject Divine things from the heart.

(Heaven and Hell 533)

January 3, 2015

Loving Uses for the Sake of Uses

Selection from Apocalypse Explained ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
The uses through which men and angels have wisdom
To love uses is nothing else than to love the neighbor, for use in the spiritual sense is the neighbor. This can be seen from the fact that everyone loves another not because of his face and body, but from his will and understanding; he loves one who has a good will and a good understanding, and does not love one with a good will and a bad understanding, or with a good understanding and a bad will. And as a man is loved or not loved for these reasons, it follows that the neighbor is that from which everyone is a man, and that is his spiritual. Place ten men before your eyes that you may choose one of them to be your associate in any duty or business; will you first find out about them and choose the one who comes nearest to your use? Therefore he is your neighbor, and is loved more than the others. Or become acquainted with ten maidens with the purpose of choosing one of them for your wife; do you not at first ascertain the character of each one, and if she consents betroth to you the one that you love? That one is more your neighbor than the others. If you should say to yourself, "Every man is my neighbor, and is therefore to be loved without distinction," a devil-man and an angel-man or a harlot and a virgin might be equally loved. Use is the neighbor, because every man is valued and loved not for his will and understanding alone, but for the uses he performs or is able to perform from these. Therefore a man of use is a man according to his use; and a man not of use is a man not a man, for of such a man it is said that he is not useful for anything; and although in this world he may be tolerated in a community so long as he lives from what is his own, after death when he becomes a spirit he is cast out into a desert.

Man, therefore, is such as his use is. But uses are manifold; in general they are heavenly or infernal. Heavenly uses are those that are serviceable more or less, or more nearly or remotely, to the church, to the country, to society, and to a fellow-citizen, for the sake of these as ends; but infernal uses are those that are serviceable only to the man himself and those dependent on him; and if serviceable to the church, to the country, to society, or to a fellow citizen, it is not for the sake of these as ends, but for the sake of self as the end. And yet everyone ought from love, though not from self-love, to provide the necessaries and requisites of life for himself and those dependent on him.

When man loves uses by doing them in the first place, and loves the world and self in the second place, the former constitutes his spiritual and the latter his natural; and the spiritual rules, and the natural serves. This makes evident what the spiritual is, and what the natural is. This is the meaning of the Lord's words in Matthew:
Seek ye first the kingdom of the heavens* and its justice, and all things shall be added unto you (Matt. 6:33).
"The kingdom of the heavens" means the Lord and His church, and "justice" means spiritual, moral, and civil good; and every good that is done from the love of these is a use. Then "all things shall be added," because when use is in the first place, the Lord, from whom is all good, is in the first place and rules, and gives whatever contributes to eternal life and happiness; for, as has been said, all things of the Lord's Divine providence pertaining to man look to what is eternal. "All things that shall be added" refer to food and raiment, because food means everything internal that nourishes the soul, and raiment everything external that like the body clothes it. Everything internal has reference to love and wisdom, and everything external to wealth and eminence. All this makes clear what is meant by loving uses for the sake of uses, and what the uses are from which man has wisdom, from which and according to which wisdom everyone has eminence and wealth in heaven.
(Apocalypse Explained 1193)

* Photolithograph has "kingdom of the heavens." Schmidius also has it. The Greek is "Kingdom of God."

January 2, 2015

Before the Lord's Omnipresence and His Omniscience can be Comprehended

Selection from Apocalypse Explained ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
Spaces and times must be removed from the ideas before the Lord's omnipresence with all and with each individual, and His omniscience of things present and future, can be comprehended. But inasmuch as spaces and times cannot easily be removed from the ideas of the thoughts of the natural man, it is better for a simple man not to think of the Divine omnipresence and omniscience from any reasoning of the understanding; it is enough for him to believe in them simply from his religion, and if he thinks from reason, let him say to himself that they exist because they pertain to God, and God is everywhere and infinite, also because they are taught in the Word; and if he thinks of them from nature and from its spaces and times, let him say to himself that they are miraculously brought about. But inasmuch as the church is at present almost overwhelmed by naturalism, and this can be shaken off only by means of rational considerations which enable man to see what is true, it will be well by means of such to draw forth these Divine attributes out of the darkness that nature induces into the light; and this can be done because, as has been said, the understanding with which man is endowed is capable of being raised up into the interior light of heaven if only man desires from love to know truths. All naturalism arises from thinking about Divine things in accord with what is proper to nature, that is, matter, space, and time. The mind that clings to these, and is unwilling to believe anything that it does not understand, cannot do otherwise than make blind its understanding, and from the dense darkness in which it is immersed, deny that there is any Divine providence, and thus deny the Divine omnipotence, omnipresence, and omniscience, although these are just what religion teaches both within nature and above nature. And yet these cannot be comprehended by the understanding unless spaces and times are separated from the ideas of its thought; for these are in some way present in every idea of thought, and unless they are separated man cannot think otherwise than that nature is everything, that it is from itself, and consequently that the inmost of nature is what is called God, and that all beyond it is merely ideal. And such, I know, will wonder how anything can possibly exist where there is no time or space; and that the Divine itself is without them, and that the spiritual are not in them, but are only in appearances of them; and yet Divine spiritual things are the very essence of all things that have existed or that exist, and natural things apart from these are like bodies without souls, which become carcasses.

Every man who has become naturalistic by thoughts from nature continues such after death, and calls all things that he sees in the spiritual world natural, because they are similar. Such, however, are enlightened and taught by angels that these things are not natural, but are appearances of natural things; and they are so far convinced as to affirm that it is so. But they soon fall back and worship nature as they did in the world, and at length separate themselves from the angels and fall into hell, and cannot be taken out to eternity. The reason is that their soul is not spiritual, but natural like the soul of beasts, although with the ability of thinking and speaking because they were born men. And because the hells at this day more than ever before are full of such, it is important that such dense darkness arising from nature, which at present fills and closes up the thresholds of the understanding of men, should be removed by means of rational light derived from spiritual.

(Apocalypse Explained 1220:2)