The Difference Between Spiritual Faith and Mere Natural Faith

Selection from Apocalypse Explained ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

There is spiritual faith, and there is faith merely natural. Spiritual faith is wholly from charity, and in its essence is charity. Charity, or love towards the neighbor, is to love truth, sincerity, and what is just, and to do them from willing them. For the neighbor in the spiritual sense is not every man, but it is that which is with man; if this be truth, sincerity, and what is just, and the man is loved on account of these, then the neighbor is loved. That this is what charity means, in the spiritual sense, anyone may know if he will but reflect.

Everyone loves another, not for the sake of his person, but for the sake of what is with him; this is the ground of all friendship, all favor, and all honor.  From this it follows, that to love men for the sake of what is true, sincere, and just in them is spiritual love; for what is true, sincere, and just are spiritual things, because they are out of heaven from the Lord. For no man thinks, wills, and does any good thing that is good in itself, but it is all from the Lord; and what is true, sincere, and just are good things that are good in themselves when they are from the Lord.  These things, then, are the neighbor in the spiritual sense; from which it is clear what is meant in that sense by loving the neighbor, or by charity.  From that is spiritual faith; for whatever is loved is called truth when it is thought.  Everyone can see that this is so if he will reflect upon it, for everyone confirms that which he loves by many things in the thought, and all things by which he confirms himself he calls truths; no one has truth from any other source. From this it follows, that the truths a man has are such as is the love with him; consequently, if the love with him is spiritual, the truths will also be spiritual, since the truths act as one with his love.  All truths, because they are believed, are called in one complex, faith.  From this it is clear that spiritual faith in its essence is charity. So far concerning spiritual faith.


But faith merely natural is not a faith of the church, although it is called faith, but is merely knowing [scientia].  It is not a faith of the church, because it does not proceed from love to the neighbor, or charity, which is the spiritual itself from which faith comes, but proceeds from some natural love that has reference either to love of self or to love of the world, and whatever proceeds from these loves is natural.   Love forms the spirit of man; for man in respect to his spirit is wholly as his love is; from that he thinks, from that he wills, and from that acts; therefore he makes no other truth to be of his faith than that which is of his love; and truth that is of the love of self or the world is merely natural, because it comes from man and from the world, and not from the Lord and from heaven; for such a man loves truth, not from a love of truth but from a love of honor, of gain and of fame, which he serves; and as his truth is such, his faith also is such.  This faith, therefore, is not a faith of the truth of the church, or faith in a spiritual sense, but only in a natural sense which is a mere knowing [scientia].  And again because nothing of this is in man’s spirit but only in his memory, together with other things of this world, therefore also after death it is dissipated.  For only that which is of man’s love remains with him after death, for it is love that forms man’s spirit, and man in respect to his spirit is wholly such as his love is.

(Apocalypse Explained 204:2-3)
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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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