The Forming of a True Conscience

Selection from Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

A church is said to be corrupted when it acknowledges the Word and has a certain worship like that of a true church, but yet separates faith from charity, thus from its essential and from its life, whereby faith becomes a kind of dead affair; the result of which necessarily is that the church is corrupted. What the men of the church then become, is evident from the consideration that they can have no conscience; for conscience that is really conscience cannot possibly exist except from charity. Charity is what makes conscience, that is, the Lord through charity. What else is conscience than not to do evil to anyone in anyway; that is, to do well to all in every way? Thus conscience belongs to charity, and never to faith separated from charity. If such persons have any conscience, it is a false conscience; and because they are without conscience, they rush into all wickedness, so far as outward bonds are relaxed. They do not even know what charity is, except that it is a word significant of something.  And as they are without charity, they do not know what faith is.  When questioned, they can only answer that it is a kind of thinking; some, that it is confidence; others, that it is the knowledges of faith; a few, that it is life according to these knowledges, and scarcely any that it is a life of charity or of mutual love.  And if this is said to them, and opportunity is given them for reflection, they answer only that all love begins from self, and that he is worse than a heathen who does not take care of himself and his own family.  They therefore study nothing but themselves and the world. Hence it comes to pass that they live in their Own….

That they who are … those who separate faith from charity and hence make worship consist in externals alone, cannot know what and whence is conscience, needs to be briefly shown. Conscience is formed by means of the truths of faith, for that which a man has heard, acknowledged, and believed makes the conscience in him; and afterwards to act contrary to this is to him to act contrary to conscience, as may be sufficiently evident to everyone; so that unless it is the truths of faith that a man hears, acknowledges, and believes, he cannot possibly have a true conscience. For it is through the truths of faith (the Lord working in charity) that man is regenerated, and therefore it is through the truths of faith that he receives conscience, conscience being the new man himself. From this it is evident that the truths of faith are the means by which this may take place, that is, that the man may live according to what faith teaches, the principal of which is to love the Lord above all things, and the neighbor as himself.  If he does not so live, what is his faith but an empty affair, and a mere high-sounding word, or a thing that is separated from heavenly life, and in which when thus separated there is no possible salvation?

For to believe that no matter how a man lives, he may yet be saved provided he has faith, is to say that he may be saved if he has no charity, and no conscience (that is, if he passes his life in hatred, revenge, robbery, adultery, in a word, in all things contrary to charity and conscience) provided only that he has faith, even if it be but at the hour of death.  Let such persons consider, when they are in such a false principle, what truth of faith there is that can form their conscience, and whether it be not what is false.  If they suppose that they have anything of conscience, it must be only outward bonds – such as fear of the law, of loss of honor, of gain, or of reputation for the sake of these – that make, with them, what they call conscience, and which lead them not to injure the neighbor, but to do him good.  But as this is not conscience, because not charity, therefore when these restraints are loosened or taken away, such persons rush into most wicked and obscene things.  Very different is the case with those who, although they have declared that faith alone saves, have still lived a life of charity; for in their faith there has been charity from the Lord.

(Arcana Coelestia 1076-1077)
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About mike

Finding out that the Lord is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, and from the human race the angelic heaven would be formed, my entire focus on life changed. The reason for my creation was to perform Divine uses - The Divine Providence looks to eternal ends. My gain, honor or reputation no longer could be the focal point of what drives the engine. One day I will lay aside this material body and will wake up in the spiritual world never to return; there will be a continuation of life, and my ruling love will be what guides me to my final situation. 'Where a tree falls, there will it lay' (Ecc 11:3) We only have a few years in these bodies compared to eternity. What is fossilized on our souls in this short period is important to how we spend eternity. We are not left to blind faith, The Lord has come in His Word to reveal rationally how we can be made 'a vessel of honor, able for the master's use.' I truly hope the post create a thirst. If I can be of service, please do not hesitate to email me. --Mike
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