March 9, 2016

Intellectual Faith vs Spiritual Faith

Passages from Doctrine of Life ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
  • Intellectual Faith - Dead Faith
The faith of an evil man is an intellectual faith, in which there is nothing of good from the will. Thus it is a dead faith, which is like the breathing of the lungs without there being any life or soul in it from the heart. Moreover the understanding corresponds to the lungs, and the will to the heart.

Such faith is also like a good-looking harlot dressed up in crimson and gold, but full of disease and corruption. A harlot also corresponds to the falsification of truth, and therefore in the Word signifies it.

Such faith is also like a tree luxuriant in foliage but barren of fruit, which the gardener cuts down. A tree moreover signifies a man, its leaves and blossoms signify the truths of faith, and its fruit the good of love.

But very different is that faith in the understanding which has in it good from the will. This faith is living, and is like a breathing of the lungs in which there is life and soul from the heart. It is also like a lovely wife whose chastity endears her to her husband. It is also like a tree that bears fruit.

There are many things that appear to be mere matters of faith, such as that there is a God; that the Lord, who is God, is the Redeemer and Saviour; that there is a heaven and a hell; that there is a life after death; and many other things of which it is not said that they are to be done, but that they are to be believed. These things of faith also are dead with a man who is in evil, but are living with a man who is in good. The reason is that a man who is in good not only acts aright from the will but also thinks aright from the understanding, and this not only before the world but also before himself when he is alone. Not so a man who is in evil.

We have said that these things appear to be mere matters of faith. But the thought of the understanding derives its coming into manifest being [trahit suum existere] from the love of the will, which is the inmost being [qui est esse] of the thought in the understanding, ... For whatever anyone wills from love, he wills to do, he wills to think, he wills to understand, and he wills to speak; or, what is the same, whatever anyone loves from the will, he loves to do, he loves to think, he loves to understand, and he loves to speak. To this is also to be added, that when a man shuns what is evil as a sin, he is in the Lord, ... and the Lord then works everything. And therefore to those who asked Him what they should do that they might work the works of God, He said:

This is the work of God, that ye believe in Him whom He hath sent (John 6:28-29).
To "believe in the Lord" is not only to think that He is, but also to do His words, as He teaches elsewhere.

That those who are in evils have no faith, no matter how much they may suppose themselves to have it, has been shown in the spiritual world in the case of persons of this character. They were brought into a heavenly society, which caused the spiritual sphere of faith as existing with the angels to enter into the interiors of their faith, and the result was that the angels perceived that those persons possessed only what is natural or external of faith, and not what is spiritual or internal of it, and therefore those persons themselves confessed that they had nothing whatever of faith, and that in the world they had persuaded themselves that to believe or have faith consists in thinking a thing to be true, no matter what the ground for so thinking. Very different was perceived to be the faith of those who had not been in evil.

  • Spiritual Faith - Saving Faith
From all this it may be seen what spiritual faith is; and also what is faith not spiritual. Spiritual faith exists with those who do not commit sins, for those who do not commit sins do things that are good, not from themselves but from the Lord, and through faith become spiritual. Faith with these is the truth. This the Lord teaches in John:
This is the judgment, that the light is come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light, because their works were evil. For everyone that doeth evil hateth the light, and cometh not to the light, lest his works should be reproved. But he that doeth the truth cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, that they have been wrought in God (John 3:19-21).
All the foregoing is confirmed by the following passages in the Word:

A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil, for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh (Luke 6:45; Matt. 12:35).

The "heart" in the Word means man's will, and as man thinks and speaks from this, it is said: "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."

Not that which goeth into the mouth defileth the man; but that which goeth out of the heart, this defileth the man (Matt. 15:11, 18).

The "heart" here too means the will. Jesus said of the woman who anointed His feet with ointment:

Her sins are forgiven for she loved much; thy faith hath saved thee (Luke 7:47, 50);

from which it is evident that when sins have been remitted or forgiven, thus when they exist no longer, faith saves. That those are called "sons of God" and "born of God" who are not in the Own of their will, and consequently are not in the Own of their understanding; that is to say, who are not in evil and from this in falsity; and that these are they who believe in the Lord, He Himself teaches in John 1:12, 13, which passage may be seen explained above in n. 17, at the end.

From these premises there follows this conclusion: - That no man has in him a grain of truth more than he has of good; thus that he has not a grain of faith more than he has of life. In the understanding indeed there may exist the thought that such or such a thing is true, but not the acknowledgment which is faith, unless there is consent thereto in the will. Thus do faith and life keep step as they walk. From all this it is now evident that in proportion as anyone shuns evils as sins, in the same proportion he has faith and is spiritual.

(Life 46 - 52)