“The Righteous,” “Righteousness,” “To Be Made Righteous”

Selection from Arcana Cœlestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

Mention is often made in the Word of “the righteous,” of “righteousness,” and of “to be made righteous;” but what is specifically signified by these expressions is not yet known.

The reason why it is not known is that hitherto it has been unknown that every expression in the Word signifies such things as belong to the internal church and to heaven, thus to the internal man (for the internal of the church, and heaven, are in the internal man), and also that these interior things in the Word differ from the exterior things which are of the letter, as spiritual things differ from natural, or as heavenly things differ from earthly — the difference of which is so great that to the natural man there scarcely appears any likeness — although there is full agreement. As this has been unknown, it could not be known what is signified in the Word, in its spiritual and celestial senses, by “the righteous,” by “righteousness,” and by “to be made righteous.”

It is believed by the heads of the church that he is righteous, and has been made righteous, who is acquainted with the truths of faith from the doctrine of the church and from the Word, and consequently is in the trust and confidence that he is saved through the Lord’s righteousness, and that the Lord has acquired righteousness by fulfilling all things of the Law, and that He acquired merit because He endured the cross, and thereby made atonement for and redeemed man. Through this faith alone a man is believed to be made righteous; and it is believed further that such are they who are called in the Word “the righteous.”

Yet it is not these who are called “righteous” in the Word; but those who from the Lord are in the good of charity toward the neighbor; for the Lord alone is righteous, because He alone is righteousness. Therefore a man is righteous, and has been made righteous, insofar as he receives good from the Lord, that is, insofar, and according to the way, in which he has in him what belongs to the Lord. The Lord was made righteousness through His having by His own power made His Human Divine. This Divine, with the man who receives it, is the Lord’s righteousness with him, and is the very good of charity toward the neighbor; for the Lord is in the good of love, and through it in the truth of faith, because the Lord is Divine love itself.

The good of charity toward the neighbor is exterior good, which is signified by “the righteous;” and the good of love to the Lord is interior good, which is signified by “the innocent”… That the good of love toward the neighbor from the Lord is “the righteous” in the proper sense, can be seen from the passages in the Word where mention is made of “the righteous,” of “righteousness,” and of “to be made righteous;” as in Matthew:

Then shall the righteous answer Him, saying, When saw we Thee a hungered, and fed Thee? or thirsty, and gave Thee drink? When saw we Thee a stranger, and took Thee in? or naked, and clothed Thee? When saw we Thee sick, or in prison, and came unto Thee? But the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily, I say unto you, Insomuch as ye did it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye did it unto Me. And the righteous shall go into eternal life (Matt. 25:37-40, 46)

those are here called “the righteous” who have performed the goods of charity toward the neighbor, which are here recounted. And that the goods of charity are the Lord with them is said openly: “insomuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these My brethren, ye have done it unto Me.” These are also called “the sheep,” for by “sheep” are signified those who from the Lord are in the good of charity; whereas by “the goats” which are on the left hand, and are condemned, are signified those who are in faith separate from charity. The same are signified by “the righteous” in another passage in Matthew:

The angels shall go forth, and shall sever the evil from the midst of the righteous (Matt. 13:49)

and in Luke:

Thou shalt be recompensed in the resurrection of the righteous (Luke 14:14).

From this it is evident what is signified by,

The righteous shall shine forth as the sun in heaven (Matt. 13:43)

namely, that they are in the good of love from the Lord; for the Lord is the sun in the other life, and that which is from the Lord as the sun there is the good of love. Hence the Lord is called “the Sun of Righteousness” (Mal. 4:2). In Daniel:

The intelligent shall shine as the brightness of the expanse, and they that make many righteous as the stars for ever and ever (Dan. 12:3)

“the intelligent” denote those who are in the truth and good of faith; and “they that make many righteous” denote those who lead to the good of charity through the truth and the good of faith; “to shine forth as the stars” denotes to be in the intelligence of truth and the wisdom of good, consequently in eternal happiness; for the “stars” denote the knowledges of truth and good, from which are intelligence and wisdom.

“The righteous” is thus described in David:

Jehovah upholdeth the righteous; the righteous showeth mercy, and giveth. Every day the righteous showeth mercy, and lendeth. The righteous shall possess the land. The mouth of the righteous meditateth wisdom, and his tongue speaketh judgment; the law of his God is in his heart (Ps. 37:17, 21, 26, 29-31)

these things are goods of charity, which belong to “the righteous.” The church knows that these goods of charity are from the Lord, insomuch that they are the Lord’s in the man. “The righteous” is also described in Ezekiel 18:5-9, 21; 33:15-20.

From all this it can be seen what is signified by “the righteous,” and by “righteousness,” in the following passages of Matthew:

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled (Matt. 5:6).

He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward (Matt. 10:41).

Many prophets and righteous men have desired to see the things which ye see, but have not seen them (Matt. 13:17).

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye build the sepulchers of the prophets, and garnish the tombs of the righteous; upon you shall come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel (Matt. 23:29, 35)”the prophets” denote those who teach the truths and goods of faith, and in the abstract sense, the doctrines of faith; and “the righteous” denote those who live a life of charity, and in the abstract sense the good of charity. (That Abel, who is called “righteous,” represented the good of charity.)

(from Arcana Cœlestia 9263:1-7)
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Truths Divine Impressed on the Life by the Lord

Selection from Arcana Cœlestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

Truths are said to be impressed on the life, when they become of the will and from this of the act. So long as they stay merely in the memory, and so long as they are looked at only intellectually, they have not been impressed on the life; but as soon as they are received in the will, they become of the life, because the very being of man’s life is to will, and from this to act; and before this they have not been appropriated to the man.

(from Arcana Cœlestia 9386)
Posted in Christian, Church, Emanuel Swedenborg, Religion, Spiritual Growth

The Progression of Truth

Selection from Emanuel Swedenborg’s Spiritual Diary

The progression of truth, or faith, from knowledge, to understanding; after that, from understanding to will, and from will to act: from conversation with angels.

I spoke with angels about the progression of truth to good, thus of faith to charity [to the effect] that angels experience joy when man, as infant and boy, learns and imbibes truths from affection, thus when truths become of knowledge; and that they experience still greater joy when they becomes of the understanding: at such time the joy is experienced by the angels in the Lord’s spiritual kingdom. There is still greater joy, when truth, from the understanding, becomes of the will: the joy then is to the angels in the Lord’s celestial kingdom. And when, from will, it becomes of act, then is there joy with the angels of the three heavens. How much joy, and how great delights, dwell in that progression, cannot be described, because it is ineffable; for thus man enters more and more into heaven, and becomes a heaven in the least form. This I perceived, while I spoke with the angels, from the progression of the delights of conjugial love [the marriage of truth and good], even to the very ultimate effect, from which man is procreated. Such is the progression of conjunction with heaven, that is, with the Lord, and such is the new creation of man, and the formation of heaven, or of the angel, in him; for heaven is the form of Divine Truth thus progressing. Hence man becomes a love; and in no other way is the marriage of truth and good established in him.

(Spiritual Diary 6011)
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The Thief Does Not Come Except to Steal and to Kill and to Destroy

Selection from Arcana Cœlestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

‘Theft’ means an alienation caused by evil that happens in the place which such evil takes possession of; for it expels everything good and true and fills up that place with evils and falsities.

‘Theft’ also means its laying claim to what belongs to others; for it takes to itself everything good and true in that place and makes such its own as well as attaching it to evils and falsities.

But to enable anyone to know what is meant by ‘theft’ in the spiritual sense, a statement must be made about what happens to evils and falsities when they enter in and take possession of a place, and also when they lay claim to everything good and true there.

From infancy to childhood, and sometimes on into early youth, a person is absorbing forms of goodness and truth received from parents and teachers, for during those years he learns about those forms of goodness and truth and believes them with simplicity – his state of innocence enabling this to happen. It inserts those forms of goodness and truth into his memory; yet it lodges them only on the edge of it since the innocence of infancy and childhood is not an internal innocence which has an influence on the rational, only an external one which has an influence solely on the exterior natural.

When however the person grows older, when he starts to think for himself and not, as previously, simply in the way his parents or teachers do, he brings back to mind and so to speak chews over what he has learned and believed before, and then he either endorses it, has doubts about it, or refuses to accept it. If he endorses it, this is an indication that he is governed by good, but if he refuses to accept it, that is an indication that he is governed by evil. If however he has doubts about what he has learned and believed before, it is an indication that he will move subsequently either into an affirmative attitude of mind or else into a negative one.

The truths that a person learns and believes in his earliest years when he is a young child but which later on he either endorses, has doubts about, or refuses to accept, are in particular these:

    There is God, and He is one
    He created everything
    He rewards those who do what is good and punishes those who do things that are bad
    There is life after death, when the bad go to hell and the good go to heaven, and so there is a hell and a heaven
    The life after death lasts for ever
    People ought to pray every day and to do so in a humble way
    They ought to keep the Sabbath day holy
    Honour parents
    Not commit adultery
    Not kill
    Not steal

and many other truths like these.

Such truths are learned and absorbed by a person from earliest childhood; but if, when he starts to think for himself and to lead his own life, he endorses them, adding to them further truths of a more interior kind, and leads a life in conformity with them, all is well with him.

But if he starts to disobey them, refusing at length to accept them, then even though outwardly he leads a life in conformity with them, because the law and society expect him to do so, he is governed by evil.

This evil is what is meant by ‘theft’, to the extent that thief-like it usurps the position held previously by good.  With many people it is thief-like to the extent that it takes away the forms of goodness and truth previously there and uses them to lend support to evils and falsities. So far as is possible with these people the Lord removes the forms of goodness and truth absorbed in early childhood from where these are to a more internal position, where – within the interior natural – He stores them away for future use. These forms of goodness and truth that are stored away within the interior natural are meant in the Word by ‘the remnant’.  But if evil steals the forms of goodness and truth there and uses them to lend support to evils and falsities, especially if it does so by the use of deceit, it destroys those remnants; for in this case it mingles evil with good, and falsity with truth, to such an extent that one cannot be separated from the other; and then a person is done for.

The fact that ‘theft’ means the kinds of things mentioned above may be seen from the mere use of that word to refer to what constitutes a person’s spiritual life:-

For the only riches in that life are cognitions of good and truth, and the only possessions and inheritances are the different forms of happiness in life which are gained from forms of good and from truths deriving from these.

(from Arcana Cœlestia 5135
Posted in Christian, Church, Emanuel Swedenborg, Religion, Spiritual Growth, theology

The Cupidity of Gain and the Avaricious

Selection from Arcana Cœlestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

Ye are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father ye will to do. He was a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44)

[T]he cupidity of gain and avarice has within it the desire not only to possess the whole world, but also to plunder and even to kill everyone for the sake of gain; indeed one impelled by such cupidity would commit murder for but little were not the laws a hindrance. Moreover, such a man in his possession of gold and silver regards himself as the greatest in power, however in external appearance he may seem otherwise, which shows that there is in avarice not only the love of the world, but also the love of self, and indeed the filthiest love of self. For elevation of mind, or pride, in those who are sordidly avaricious, is not so conspicuous outwardly, because it is sometimes unconcerned about wealth for the sake of display; nor is it that kind of the love of self which is usually conjoined with pleasures; for such have little concern about the body, and its food and clothing. But it is a love entirely earthly, having no other end than money, in the possession of which it believes itself, not actually but potentially, above all others. It is evident from this that in avarice there is the lowest and vilest love of self, for which reason in the other life the avaricious appear to themselves to be among swine, and they above all others are against all good whatever. Consequently they are in such thick darkness that they are utterly unable to see what is good and what is true; they do not at all apprehend that there is any internal belonging to man which lives after death, and at heart they laugh at those who say so.

(from Arcana Cœlestia 4751)
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The Evil of the Love of Self Defined

Selection from Arcana Cœlestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

The evil of the love of self is not, as is generally thought, that external elation which is called pride; but it is hatred against the neighbor, and thence a burning desire for revenge, and delight in cruelty. These are the interiors of the love of self. Its exteriors are contempt for others in comparison with self, and an aversion to those who are in spiritual good, and this sometimes with manifest elation or pride, and sometimes without it; for one who holds the neighbor in such hatred, interiorly loves no one but himself and those whom he regards as making one with himself; thus he loves them in himself, and himself in them, for the sole end of self.

(from Arcana Cœlestia 4750:5)
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Concerning the State of Perception of the Most Ancient Church

Selection from Arcana Cœlestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

[T]hey had perception of all things that belong to faith, almost as have the angels with whom they had communication; for the reason that their interior man, or spirit, by means also of the internal respiration, was joined to heaven; and that love to the Lord and love toward the neighbor are attended with this; for man is thus conjoined with angels through their veriest life, which consists in such love.

They said that they had the law written upon them, because they were in love to the Lord and love toward the neighbor; and such being the case, whatever the laws prescribe was in agreement with their perception, and whatever the laws forbid was contrary to it. Nor did they doubt that all laws, human as well as Divine, are founded in love to the Lord and charity toward the neighbor, and regard these as their fundamental.

Wherefore, as they had this fundamental in them, from the Lord, they could not but know all things that were from it. They believe too that those who live in the world at this day, who love the Lord and the neighbor, have also the law written upon them, and are acceptable citizens everywhere on earth, as the same are in the other life.

(from Arcana Cœlestia 1121)
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