April 21, 2016

Even If You are in Heresies...

From Divine Providence ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

The merely natural man confirms himself against the Divine providence by the fact that there have been and still are so many heresies in the Christian world.... For he may think to himself, If the Divine providence were universal in its least particulars, and had the salvation of all as its end, it would have caused one true religion to exist throughout the world, and that one not divided, still less torn into heresies. But make use of your reason, and think more deeply, if you can, whether a man can be saved unless he is previously reformed. For he is born into the love of self and love of the world; and as these loves do not carry in them anything of love to God or of love towards the neighbor except for the sake of self, he has been born also into evils of every kind. What is there of love or mercy in these loves? Does he [from these loves] think anything of defrauding another, defaming him, hating him even to the death, committing adultery with his wife, being cruel to him when moved by revenge, while cherishing in his mind a wish to be highest of all, and to possess the goods of all others, and while regarding others as insignificant and worthless compared with himself? If such a man is to be saved must he not first be led away from these evils, and thus reformed? This can be done only in accordance with many laws which are laws of the Divine providence.... These laws are for the most part unknown; nevertheless, they are laws of the Divine wisdom and at the same time of the Divine love, and the Lord cannot act contrary to them, because to do so would be to destroy man, not to save him.

Let the laws that have been set forth be reviewed and compared, and you will see. And since, then, it is in accordance with these laws that there is no immediate influx from heaven, but only mediate influx through the Word, doctrines, and preaching; also, for the Word to be Divine it must needs be written wholly by correspondences; it follows that discussions and heresies are inevitable, and that permissions of these are also in accord with the laws of the Divine providence. Furthermore, when the church itself has taken as its essentials such things as belong to the understanding alone, that is, to doctrine, and not such as belong to the will, that is, to the life, and the things that belong to the life are not made the essentials of the church, man from his understanding is then in mere darkness, and wanders about like a blind man, everywhere running against something and falling into pits. For the will must see in the understanding, and not the understanding in the will; or what is the same, the life and its love must lead the understanding to think, speak, and act, and not the reverse. If the reverse were true, the understanding, from an evil and even a diabolical love, might seize upon whatever presents itself through the senses, and enjoin the will to do it. From all this the source of dissensions and heresies can be seen.

And yet it has been provided that every one, in whatever heresies he may be in respect to the understanding, can be reformed and saved, if only he shuns evils as sins, and does not confirm heretical falsities in himself; for by shunning evils as sins the will is reformed, and through the will the understanding, which then first emerges from darkness into light. There are three essentials of the church, an acknowledgment of the Divine of the Lord, an acknowledgment of the holiness of the Word, and the life that is called charity. According to the life which is charity is every one's faith; from the Word comes the knowledge of what the life must be, and from the Lord are reformation and salvation. If the church had held these three as essentials it would not have been divided, but only varied, by intellectual dissensions, as light varies the color in beautiful objects, and as various circlets give beauty in the crown of a king.

(Divine Providence 259)