Material from which ‘Faith of Charity’ can be formed

Selection from The Doctrine of Faith ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

The knowledges [cognitiones*] of truth and of good are not matters of real belief until the man is in charity, but are the storehouse of material out of which the faith of charity can be formed.

From his earliest childhood man has the affection of knowing, which leads him to learn many things that will be of use to him, and many that will be of no use. While he is growing into manhood he learns by application to some business such things as belong to that business, and this business then becomes his use, and he feels an affection for it. In this way commences the affection or love of use, and this brings forth the affection of the means which teach him the handling of the business which is his use.

With everybody in the world there is this progression, because everybody has some business to which he advances from the use that is his end, by the means, to the actual use which is the effect. But inasmuch as this use together with the means that belong to it is for the sake of life in this world, the affection that is felt for it is natural affection only.

But as every man not only regards uses for the sake of life in this world, but also should regard uses for the sake of his life in heaven (for into this life he will come after his life here, and will live in it to eternity), therefore from childhood everyone acquires knowledges [cognitiones] of truth and good from the Word, or from the doctrine of the church, or from preaching, which knowledges are to be learned and retained for the sake of that life; and these he stores up in his natural memory in greater or less abundance according to such affection of knowing as may be inborn with him, and has in various ways been incited to an increase.

But all these knowledges [cognitiones], whatever may be their number and whatever their nature, are merely the storehouse of material from which the faith of charity can be formed, and this faith cannot be formed except in proportion as the man shuns evils as sins. If he shuns evils as sins, then these knowledges become those of a faith that has spiritual life within it. But if he does not shun evils as sins, then these knowledges are nothing but knowledges [cognitiones], and do not become those of a faith that has any spiritual life within it.

This storehouse of material is in the highest degree necessary, because faith cannot be formed without it, for the knowledges [cognitiones] of truth and good enter into faith and make it, so that if there are no knowledges, faith cannot come forth into being, for an entirely void and empty faith is impossible. If the knowledges are scanty, the faith is consequently very small and meager; if they are abundant, the faith becomes proportionately rich and full.

(The Doctrine of Faith 25 – 28)

To be continued..

*The term cognitiones, here used in the Latin, is translated “cognitions” to distinguish these knowledges from those that are meant by the Latin scientifica also used in the Writings of Swedenborg.  Two of the meanings most commonly associated with cognitiones are, (i) a particular species of knowledge, as knowledges of the Word, of good and truth, or of spiritual things; and (ii) a higher type of knowledge which is from understanding and perception

Posted in Christian, Emanuel Swedenborg, Church, Spiritual Growth, Religion | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

When Faith is Not Saving

Selection from Apocalypse Explained ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

Faith alone can in no way produce any good, that is, that from faith alone no good fruit can come.

It is supposed that faith is to believe that the Lord suffered the cross for our sins, and thereby redeemed us from hell, and that it is mainly a faith in this that justifies and saves. It is supposed, moreover, that faith is –
• a believing that God is triune
• a believing of what is taught in the Word
• a believing in eternal life and in the resurrection on the day of the Last Judgment
and the other things that the church teaches

And as they separate faith from the life of charity, which is doing what is good most persons at this day suppose that to know these things and to think and speak about them is the faith that saves; consequently they pay no attention to willing them and doing them; they do not even know what they ought to will and do. Nor does the church teach this, because the doctrine of the church is the doctrine of faith alone, and not the doctrine of life. The doctrine of life they call moral theology, which they make of little account, because they believe that the virtues of a moral life, which in themselves are good works, contribute nothing to salvation.

But that knowing, thinking, and speaking about these things is not faith, and even if this be called faith it does not bring forth what is good, as a tree its fruits, can be seen from the following:

(1) All things that a man knows, thinks about, and talks about so far as he understands them, he calls truths; and all things that he wills and does so far as he loves them, he calls goods; thus truths belong to man’s faith, and truths to his love. From this it is clear that the truths, which pertain to faith, are distinct from the goods, which pertain to love, as knowing and thinking are distinct from willing and doing. That they are distinct, and how far they are distinct, man can know from this –

that it is possible for a man to know, to think about, speak about, and even to understand, many things that he does not will and do because he does not love them

but on the other hand –

whatever a man wills and does from love, that he thinks and speaks about from faith; if not before the world yet with himself when he is alone and left to himself.

From this it follows,

(2) that a man’s love and will enter into all things of his faith and thought, but faith and thought cannot enter into his love and will.

For that which a man loves he also loves to do, loves to know, loves to think about, loves to speak about, and loves to understand, and thus loves to have faith in.

So if the will be taken in place of the love: that which a man wills he also wills to do, wills to know, wills to think about, wills to speak about, wills to understand, and thus wills to have faith in.

Similar things may be said of the will as of the love, for the reason that the love is of the will, and the will is the receptacle of the love.

From this it now follows that –

love produces faith as the will produces thought.

And as faith, like thought, is produced, and love, like the will, produces, it follows that –

it is a perversion to say that faith produces love.

From this it is now first evident that to believe that faith produces goods, which are called good works, as a tree produces fruits, is to believe what is contrary to order.

(3) Similar things as have been said of faith and love are to be understood also of truth and good, for truth pertains to faith and faith to truth, since that which a man believes he calls truth; also good pertains to love and love to good, since that which a man loves be calls good.

Truth regarded in itself is nothing but good in form

for while good may be made evident to the feeling it cannot be made evident to the sight except in some form; and the form in which it is made evident to the sight in the thought, and thus in the understanding and perception, is called truth.

From this, too, it follows that –

love produces faith as good produces truth; consequently that faith does not produce the good of love as a tree does fruit.

(4) Again, knowing and thinking and speaking therefrom are from the memory; but willing and doing from love are from the life.

Man can think and speak about many things from the memory that are not from his life, which is love; this every hypocrite and flatterer can do; but when he is left to himself he cannot think and speak anything from the life that is not from his love, for love is the life of everyone, and such as the love is, such is the life.

But the memory is only a storehouse, from which the life selects what it may think and speak, and what serves the life that it may be nourished by it.

To say, therefore, that faith produces goods as a tree does fruits is to say that a man’s thought and speech produce his life, and that his life does not produce his thought and speech; and yet the evil, even the very worst, can think and speak truths from the memory, while only the good can do so from the life.

(5) That faith alone, or faith separated from goods in act, which are good works, is not possible, is evident from this –

that the essence of faith is charity, and charity is the affection of doing the things that belong to faith; consequently faith without charity is like thought without affection; and as thought without affection is no thought, so faith without charity is no faith.

Therefore to speak of faith without charity is to speak of thought without affection, of life without a soul, of existere without esse, of form without that which forms, of a product without that which produces, and of an effect without a cause; and for this reason –

faith alone is a nonentity; and from a nonentity to produce goods in act, which are good works, as a good tree produces fruits, is a contradiction, whereby what is believed to be something is not anything.

(6) Because faith without charity is not possible; and yet the thought and persuasion that a thing is so appears as if it were faith, and is called faith; but it is not saving faith, it is historical faith, because it is from the mouth of another. For one who believes anything from another whom he thinks worthy of belief, and who receives this, stores it in his memory, and from the memory thinks and speaks about it without seeing whether it be false or true, has no other hold upon it than as something historical. But if he confirms this in himself by appearances from the Word and by reasonings, from historical faith it becomes to him persuasive faith, which faith is like the sight of an owl, which sees objects in darkness and nothing in the light. Such persuasive faith exists from every confirmation of what is false. For every falsity can be confirmed until it seems to be a truth; and a falsity so confirmed shines with a fatuous lumen. From this also it is clear that such a faith cannot produce what is good.

(7) As faith of thought is nothing but historical faith or persuasive faith, it follows that it is merely natural faith. For –

spiritual faith is produced from spiritual love, which is charity, just as light is produced from the sun; and it does not produce that love, as light does not produce the sun.

Therefore merely natural faith is produced from merely natural love, which derives its soul from the love of self, and the delight of that love is a delight of the flesh, which is called pleasure, lust, or lewdness, from which evils of every kind gush forth, and from evils falsities. Thence it is clear that faith proceeding from these cannot produce goods as a tree does good fruits, and if it produces any goods they are goods from what is man’s own [proprium] which are in themselves evils, and at the same time are meritorious goods which are in themselves iniquitous. But it is otherwise with spiritual faith.

(Apocalypse Explained 789)

Emphasis by Reviser

Posted in Christian, Church, Emanuel Swedenborg, Spirituality, theology | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Comprehending God Born Man in the World

Selection from Emanuel Swedenborg’s work
Last Judgment (Posthumous)
The Last Judgment conducted in the year 1757 in the Spiritual World

The Gentiles
About the time of the Last Judgment, Christians appeared there in the middle, where they were arranged at a distance from the center to the circumference, and also at the various quarters according to the light of truth from the love of good.

Around this middle were seen the Mohammedans arranged in like manner at the various quarters, near to the Christians according to the light of truth from good.

Outside this compass were seen the Gentiles arranged according to their religion and according to life therefrom.

All have similar lands divided into mountains, hills, rocks and valleys, and above them are expanses where dwell the best of them who have received from angels truths of doctrine concerning the Lord and concerning life. Beyond them appeared as it were a sea, which was the boundary.

All these circuits taken together are extended not in a plane but in a globe like the earth, so that when I was conducted to the Gentiles, after passing through the Mohammedans, I descended by a declivity.

When the Last Judgment was going on, those who were in the western quarter beyond the Mohammedans, were led away towards the east. They were led, not by a circuit, but above the northern plane of the Christians, and, what I wondered at, on high, so that they were transferred by a way above the Christians, and yet did not communicate with them. And they were then allotted places around the Mohammedans at the east and also at the south. On both sides of where the Mohammedan heavens are, there appeared openings descending into the depths. Thither were cast those of them who were evil, who had worshipped idols, and had thought nothing about God, and at the same time had lived an evil life.

There is also a similar chasm on the northern side of the Mohammedan desert. Into this were cast the worst, and also many of the Roman Catholic religion who had worshipped the images of saints, and had thought nothing at all about the Lord. These latter were gathered from the northern quarter under the mountains there and were mingled with the Gentiles because they are similar. I then saw the whole northern valley even to the mountains there torn up to its foundations, and all who were there, scattered, and then there appeared in that place as it were a smokiness.

I was afterwards led beyond the Mohammedans to certain Gentiles who were in the eastern quarter, with whom it was granted to speak.

They said that they were sad because the Divine does not appear to them, when yet they think of the Divine and speak about it; and, therefore, if there is a God [they had hoped] that He would send to them those who would teach them; but that they had long waited for this in vain, lamenting that perchance He had deserted them, and that thus there seemed nothing else for them but to perish.

And then I heard angels speaking with them out of heaven, saying that God could not have been manifested to them because –

they had not been willing to believe that God was born a man in the world, or that He had taken on a Human, and that until they believe this, God cannot be manifested to them, nor can they be taught, because this is the primary thing of all revelation.

They said that they did indeed believe that God is Man but that they could not comprehend that He was born Man in the world.

But answer was made them, that –

He was not born Man like any other man, since He was not born from a human father, but from the Father Jehovah, and by a Virgin, and that thus He was unlike any other man; for a man’s soul from a human father is a recipient of life, but the Lord’s soul from the Father Jehovah is life itself, which gives life to all; and that the difference is as between the human and the Divine, and the finite and the infinite, or the create and the uncreate; and because He was such as to His soul, it could not be otherwise than that His body should become like His soul, after He had rejected that of the body which He had taken from the mother; and that therefore He rose as to His whole body, nor did He leave anything of it in the sepulcher, as is the case with every other man, who rises only as to his spirit, and never as to his material body.  And further, it was said that the Divine itself, as it is in itself, which is infinite, could not have done otherwise than reject the finite which was from the mother, and put on the infinite from the Father, thus the Divine. 

They said that they had known no other than that He was like any other man born from a human father, and also that He so died, and was afterwards received by men as God, and that they now know that the Lord is not such a man as others are.

After they received these things they were divided, and those who had received the faith were instructed by angels in other matters of faith and love.

(Last Judgment-Posthumous 126 – 128)
Posted in Christian, Church, Emanuel Swedenborg, Religion, theology | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Angels Think about The Lord, His Divine and His Human

A passage from Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

The internal sense of the Word is especially for the angels; and therefore is adapted to their perceptions and thoughts. They are in their delightful, nay, in their blessed and happy states, when they are thinking about the Lord, His Divine and His Human, and how the Human was made Divine; for they are encompassed with a celestial and spiritual sphere which is full of the Lord; so that it may be said that they are in the Lord. Hence nothing is more blessed and happy to them than to think in accordance with the things that belong to that sphere and its derivative affection.

At the same time, moreover, they are instructed and perfected, especially in this:

How the Lord by degrees and of His own power, as He grew up, made Divine the human into which He was born; and thus how, by means of the knowledges that He revealed to Himself He perfected His rational, dispersed by successive steps its shadows, and introduced it into Divine light.

These and innumerable other things are presented before the angels in a celestial and spiritual manner, with a thousand and a thousand representatives, in the light of life, when the Word is being read.

But these things, which are so precious to the angels, are to men as of no importance, because above their comprehension, and thus in the shade of their understanding; and on the other hand, the things that are precious to men, such as those which contain within them worldly matters, are of no importance to the angels, because below their state and thus in the shade of their wisdom. Thus, wonderful to say, the things that come to shade with man, and almost into contempt, with the angels pass into light, and into their affection, as is the case with many things of the internal sense of the Word.

(Arcana Coelestia 2551)
Posted in Christian, Church, Emanuel Swedenborg, Religion | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Faith of The New Heaven and of The New Church on its Universal Form

Selection from True Christian Religion ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

The Lord from eternity, who is Jehovah, came into the world to subjugate the hells and to glorify His Human; and without this no mortal could have been saved; and those are saved who believe in Him.

These are the universal principles of faith relating to the Lord:

• It is a universal principle of faith that God is one in essence and in person, in whom is a Divine trinity, and that He is the Lord God the Savior Jesus Christ.

• It is a universal principle of faith that no mortal could have been saved unless the Lord had come into the world.

• It is a universal principle of faith that He came into the world to remove hell from man, and that He did remove it by means of contests with it and victories over it, and thereby He subdued it and reduced it to order and made it obedient to Himself.

• It is a universal principle of faith that He came into the world to glorify His Human which He took on in the world, that is, to unite it with the Divine from which [are all things], and thereby He eternally holds hell in order and under obedience to Himself. As this could be accomplished only by means of temptations admitted into His Human, even to the last of them, which was the passion of the cross, He endured even that.

The universal principle of faith on man’s part:

• He should believe in the Lord; for by believing in Him there is conjunction with Him and thereby salvation. To believe in the Lord is to have confidence that He saves; and as only those who live rightly can have this confidence, this, too, is meant by believing in Him.

And this the Lord teaches in John:
This is the Father’s will, that everyone that believeth in the Son may have eternal life (John 6:40);

and again:
He that believeth in the Son hath eternal life; but he that believeth not in the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abideth on him (John 3:36).

(True Christian Religion 2)
Posted in Christian, Church, Emanuel Swedenborg, Religion, theology | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Primary Thing of All Revelation

Selection from Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

And his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren; and they hated him, and could not speak for peace unto him. And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it to his brethren, and they added yet to hate him. And he said unto them, Hear I pray this dream which I have dreamed; and behold we were binding sheaves in the midst of the field, and lo my sheaf arose, and also stood upright; and behold your sheaves came round about, and bowed down themselves to my sheaf. And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? Or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they added yet to hate him for his dreams, and for his words.

And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it to his brethren, and said, Behold I have dreamed yet a dream, and behold the sun and the moon and eleven stars bowed down themselves to me. And he told it to his father, and to his brethren; and his father rebuked him, and said to him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth? And his brethren envied him, but his father kept the word.  Genesis 37:4 – 11

And lo my sheaf arose, and also stood upright. That this signifies what is doctrinal concerning the Lord’s Divine Human is evident from the signification of a “sheaf” as being doctrine … and from the signification of “arising and standing upright,” as being the supreme that should reign, and that they would adore.

That this is the Lord’s Divine Human is evident from what follows, namely,
• that the eleven sheaves bowed down themselves to that sheaf

and in the second dream
• that the sun and the moon and eleven stars bowed down themselves to Joseph, whereby is signified the supreme that should reign, and that they would adore

wherefore also Jacob says,
• “Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?”

… the Divine truth of the Lord is what is represented by Joseph; the supreme of this is the Lord Himself, and the supreme among doctrinal things is that His Human is Divine.

With this supreme of doctrinal things the case is this:

The Most Ancient Church, which was celestial, and which above all others was called Man, adored the infinite being, and the derivative infinite coming-forth; and because, from the things which could be perceived in their internal man and those which could be felt in their external, and from the visible things in the world, the men of that church could have no perception of the infinite being, but could have some perception of the derivative infinite coming-forth, they therefore adored the infinite coming forth in which is the infinite being.

The infinite coming-forth in which is the infinite being they perceived as a Divine Man, because they knew that the infinite coming-forth was brought forth through heaven from the infinite being; and as heaven is the Grand Man, corresponding to each and all things that are in man … they therefore could have no other idea of perception concerning the infinite coming forth from the infinite being, than as of a Divine Man;

for whatever from the infinite being passes through heaven as the Grand Man is attended with an image thereof in each and all things.

When that celestial church began to fall away, they foresaw that the infinite coming forth could no longer have influx into the minds of men, and that so the human race would perish; therefore it was revealed to them

that One should be born who would make the Human in Himself Divine, and in this way become the same infinite coming-forth as had been before, and would at last become one with the infinite being as also it had been before.

From this came their prophecy in Genesis concerning the Lord

And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. (Gen. 3:15).

This is described in John in these words:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and God was the Word. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us; and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:1-4, 14);

the “Word” is the Divine truth, which in its essence is the infinite coming-forth from the infinite being, and is the Lord Himself as to His Human. This very Human it is from which truth Divine now proceeds and flows into heaven, and through heaven into the minds of men; consequently which rules and governs the universe, as it has ruled and governed it from eternity;

for it is one and the same with the infinite being, because He conjoined the Human with the Divine, which was done by this, that He made the Human in Himself also Divine.

From this it is now evident that the supreme of truth Divine is the Lord’s Divine Human, and hence that the supreme among the doctrinal things of the church is that His Human is Divine.

(Arcana Coelestia 4687)
emphasis by reviser
Posted in Christian, Church, Emanuel Swedenborg, Religion, theology | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Divine Trinity (pt 15)

Selection from True Christian Religion ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
(Final Installment pt 15)

From a Trinity of Persons, each one of whom singly is God, according to the Athanasian creed, many discordant and heterogeneous ideas respecting God have arisen, which are phantasies and abortions.

From the doctrine of three Divine persons from eternity, which in itself is the head of all the doctrinals in the Christian churches, there have arisen many ideas of God that are unbecoming and unworthy of the Christian world, which, on the subject of God and His oneness ought to be and might be a light to all peoples and nations in the four quarters of the globe. All who dwell outside the Christian church, both Mohammedans and Jews, and besides these the Gentiles of every cult, are averse to Christianity solely on account of its belief in three Gods. This its propagandists know; and therefore they are very cautious about divulging the doctrine of a trinity of persons as it is taught in the Nicene and Athanasian creeds; for if they did they would be shunned and ridiculed.

The absurd, ludicrous, and frivolous ideas that have sprung up out of the doctrine of three Divine persons from eternity, and that still spring up in every man who retains a belief in the words of that doctrine, rising from his ears and eyes into the sight of his thought, are as follows:

That God the Father sits on high overhead; the Son at His right hand; and the Holy Spirit before them listening, and forthwith traversing the whole world, dispensing according to their decision the gifts of justification, inscribing them upon men and changing men from children of wrath to children of grace, and from being damned to being elect.

I appeal to the learned of the clergy and well-informed of the laity, whether in their minds they cherish any other visual image than this, for this flows of itself from the same doctrine (see Memorable Relation, n. 16).

There flows from it also a curiosity for conjecturing what they conversed about before the world was made, whether about making the world, or perchance about those who according to the Supralapsarians were to be predestined and justified, or also about redemption; likewise what they have been conversing about among themselves since the world was created –

the Father from His authority and power to impute, the Son from His power to mediate; moreover that imputation, which is election, is from the mercy of the Son who intercedes for all in general and for some individually, and that the Father, being moved by love to the Son and by the agony witnessed in Him when on the cross, has grace for such.

But who cannot see that such things are silly conceits about God? And yet in the Christian churches these are the very sanctities, which are to be kissed with the lips, but not looked into by any mental vision because they are above the reason, and if they were lifted out of the memory into the understanding man would become insane. This, however, does not take away the idea of three Gods but induces a stupid faith, because of which a man, when thinking about God, may be likened to a sleep-walker wandering about in the darkness of night, or to one blind from birth wandering in the light of day.

That a trinity of Gods is fixed in the minds of Christians, although from shame they deny it, is very evident from the ingenuity of many of them in demonstrating by means of various things in plain and solid geometry, in arithmetic, and in physics, and also by foldings of cloth and paper, that the three are one and the one is three. Thus they play with the divine trinity as jugglers play with each other. Their juggling on this subject may be compared to the visions of those suffering from fever, who see one object (whether a man, or a table or a candle) as three, or three as one. It may also be compared to the tricks of those who work soft wax with their fingers and mould it into various shapes, now making it triangular to exhibit the trinity, and again spherical to exhibit the unity, meanwhile asking, “Is not the substance still one and the same?” And yet the Divine trinity is like the one pearl of great value, but when divided into persons it is like that pearl divided into three parts, whereby it is utterly and manifestly ruined.

(True Christian Religion 183 – 185)
Posted in Christian, Church, Emanuel Swedenborg, Religion, theology | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment