February 10, 2015

Why Man is Regenerated by Means of Temptations

From a passage in Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
Man is nothing but an organ, or vessel, which receives life from the Lord; for man does not live from himself.  The life which inflows with man from the Lord is from His Divine love. This love, or the life thence derived, inflows and applies itself to the vessels which are in man's rational, and to those which are in his natural.  In consequence of the hereditary evil into which man is born, and of the actual evil which he acquires, these vessels are in a contrary position within him relatively to the inflowing life, yet insofar as the life which flows in can dispose the vessels to receive it, it does so dispose them. These vessels in the rational man, and in the natural, are what are called truths, but in themselves they are merely perceptions of the variations of form of these vessels, and of the changes of state according to which in divers ways these variations come forth, being effected in the most subtle substances, by methods inexpressible. Good itself, which has life from the Lord, or which is life, is that which flows in and disposes.

When therefore these vessels, which are to be varied as to forms, are as before said in a contrary position and direction in respect to the life, it is evident that they must be reduced to a position in accordance with the life, or into compliance with it. This cannot possibly be effected so long as the man is in that state into which he is born, and to which he has reduced himself; for the vessels are not obedient, being obstinately resistant, and hardening themselves against the heavenly order according to which the life acts; for the good which moves them, and with which they comply, is of the love of self and of the world; which good, from the gross heat that is in it, causes them to be of such a quality; and therefore before they can be rendered compliant and fit to receive anything of the life of the Lord's love, they must be softened. This softening is effected by no other means than temptations; for temptations remove all that is of the love of self and of contempt for others in comparison with self, consequently all that is of self-glory, and also of hatred and revenge on this account. When therefore the vessels have been somewhat tempered and subdued by temptations, they begin to become yielding to, and compliant with, the life of the Lord's love, which continually flows in with man.

Hence then it is that good begins to be conjoined with truths; first in the rational man, and afterwards in the natural; for as before said truths are nothing else than perceptions of the variations of form according to states that are continually being changed; and these perceptions are from the life which flows in. This is the reason why man is regenerated, that is, made new, by temptations; or what is the same, by spiritual combats; and that he is afterwards gifted with another nature; being made mild, humble, simple, and contrite in heart.  From these considerations it may now be seen what use temptations promote, namely, that good from the Lord may not only flow in, but may also dispose the vessels to obedience, and thus conjoin itself with them. ... truths are vessels receptive of good....

But as regards the Lord, who in the supreme sense is treated of, He by the most grievous temptation combats reduced all things in Himself into Divine order, insomuch that there remained nothing at all of the human which He had derived from the mother, so that He was not made new as are other men, but altogether Divine.  For the man who is made new by regeneration still retains in himself an inclination to evil, and even evil itself; but is withheld from evil by an influx of the life of the Lord's love, and this with a force exceeding great; whereas the Lord utterly cast out all the evil that was hereditary to Him from the mother, and made Himself Divine, even as to the vessels, that is, as to truths. This is that which in the Word is called "glorification."
(Arcana Coelestia 3318)