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)