March 10, 2016

When Evils Are Not Shunned From A Religious Principle

Passages from Divine Providence ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
Evils in the external man can be put away only by man's instrumentality, because it is of the Lord's Divine providence that whatever man hears, sees, thinks, wills, speaks, and does, seems to him to be wholly his own. Without this appearance there could be in man no reception of Divine truth, no determination towards doing good, no appropriation of love and wisdom or of charity and faith, and therefore no conjunction with the Lord, consequently no reformation and regeneration and thus salvation. Without this appearance repentance from sins, and faith even, are evidently impossible. It is also evident that without this appearance a man would not be a man, but would be devoid of natural life like a beast. Let any one who will consult his reason and see, when a man thinks about good and truth, spiritual, moral, or civil, whether there is any other appearance than that he thinks from himself; let him then accept this doctrinal, that everything good and true is from the Lord and nothing from man; and will he not acknowledge this consequence, that man must do good and think truth as if of himself, and yet must acknowledge that he does it from the Lord; and furthermore, that man must put away evils as if of himself and yet must acknowledge that he does it from the Lord?

Many are not aware that they are in evils, inasmuch as they do not do them outwardly because they fear the civil laws and the loss of reputation, and thus from custom and habit fall into the way of shunning evils as detrimental to their honor and profit. But when evils are not shunned from a religious principle, on the ground that they are sins and antagonistic to God, the lusts of evil with their enjoyments still remain, like impure waters confined and stagnant. Let such examine their thoughts and intentions, and they will find these lusts, provided they know what sins are.

This is the state of many who have confirmed themselves in faith separate from charity, who, believing that the law does not condemn them, do not even think about sins; and some question whether there are any sins in them, or if there are, whether they are sins before God, since they have been pardoned. In a like state also are natural moralists, who believe that civil and moral life with its prudence accomplishes everything and Divine providence nothing. Such also are those who strive with great eagerness after a reputation and name for honesty and sincerity for the sake of honor or gain. But those who are of this character, and who have also despised religion, become after death spirits of lusts, appearing to themselves as if they were men, but to others at a distance like treacherous forms (priapi); and like birds of night they see in the dark and not in the light.

(Divine Providence 116 - 117)