December 11, 2016

Reciprocity Required for Covenant

Selection from Apocalypse Explained ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
So far as man refrains from evils and shuns and turns away from them as sins, good flows in from the Lord.

The good that flows in is the affection of knowing and understanding truths, and the affection of willing and doing goods. But man cannot refrain from evils by shunning and turning away from them of himself, for he himself is in evils from his birth, and thus from nature; and evils cannot of themselves shun evils, for this would be a like a man's shunning his own nature, which is impossible; consequently it must be the Lord, who is the Divine good and the Divine truth, who causes man to shun them. Nevertheless, man ought to shun evils as if of himself, for what a man does as if of himself becomes his and is appropriated to him as his own; while what he does not do as if of himself in no wise becomes his or is appropriated to him. What comes from the Lord to man must be received by man; and it cannot be received unless he is conscious of it, that is, as if of himself. This reciprocation is a necessity to reformation. This is why the ten commandments were given, and why it is commanded in them that man shall not worship other gods, shall not profane the name of God, shall not steal, shall not commit adultery, shall not kill, shall not covet the house, wife, or servants of others, thus that man shall refrain from doing these things by thinking, when the love of evil allures and incites, that they must not be done because they are sins against God, and in themselves are infernal. So far, therefore, as a man shuns these evils so far the love of truth and good enters from the Lord; and this love causes man to shun these evils, and at length to turn away from them as sins. And as the love of truth and good puts these evils to flight, it follows that man shuns them not from himself but from the Lord, since the love of truth and good is from the Lord. If a man shuns evils merely from a fear of hell they are withdrawn; but goods do not take their place; for as soon as the fear departs the evils return.

To man alone is it granted to think as if of himself about good and evil, that is, that good must be loved and done because it is Divine and remains to eternity, and that evil must be hated and not done because it is devilish and remains to eternity. To think thus is not granted to any beast.  A beast can do good and shun evil, yet not of itself, but either from instinct or habit or fear, and never from the thought that such a thing is a good or an evil, thus not of itself. Consequently one who would have it believed that man shuns evils or does goods not as if of himself but from an imperceptible influx, or from the imputation of the Lord's merit, would also have it believed that man lives like a beast without thought of, or perception of, or the affection of truth and good. That this is so has been made clear to me from manifold experience in the spiritual world. Every man after death is there prepared either for heaven or for hell. From the man who is prepared for heaven, evils are removed, and from the man who is prepared for hell, goods are removed; and all such removals are effected as if by them. Likewise those who do evils are driven by punishments to reject them as if of themselves; but if they do not reject them as if of themselves the punishments are of no avail. By this it was made clear that those who hang down their hands, waiting for influx, or for the imputation of the Lord's merit, continue in the state of their evil, and hang down their hands forever.
To shun evils as sins is to shun the infernal societies that are in them, and man cannot shun these unless he repels them and turns away from them; and a man cannot turn away from them with repulsion unless he loves good and from that love does not will evil. For a man must either will evil or will good; and so far as he wills good he does not will evil; and it is granted him to will good when he makes the commandments of the Decalogue to be of his religion, and lives according to them.
Since man must refrain from evils as sins as if of himself, these ten commandments were inscribed by the Lord on two tables, and these were called a covenant; and this covenant was entered into in the same way as it is usual to enter into covenants between two, that is, one proposes and the other accepts, and the one who accepts consents. If he does not consent the covenant is not established. To consent to this covenant is to think, will, and do as if of oneself.  Man's thinking to shun evil and to do good as if of himself is done not by man, but by the Lord. This is done by the Lord for the sake of reciprocation and consequent conjunction; for the Lord's Divine love is such that it wills that what is its own shall be man's, and as these things cannot be man's, because they are Divine, it makes them to be as if they were man's. In this way reciprocal conjunction is effected, that is, that man is in the Lord and the Lord in man, according to the words of the Lord Himself in John 14:20: At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.  for this would not be possible if there were not in the conjunction something belonging as it were to man. What man does as if of himself he does as if of his will, of his affection, of his freedom, consequently of his life. Unless these were present on man's part, as if they were his there could be no receptivity, because nothing reactive, thus no covenant and no conjunction; in fact, no ground whatever for the imputation that man had done evil or good or had believed truth or falsity, thus that there is from merit a hell for anyone because of evil works, or from grace a heaven for anyone because of good works.
(Apocalypse Explained 971:2-5)