Reading the Word with Enlightenment

Selection from Apocalypse Explained ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

It is an invariable truth that no one can understand the Word without doctrine; for he may be led away into any errors to which he may be inclined from some love, or to which he may be drawn from some principle, whereby his mind becomes unsettled and uncertain, and at length as it were destitute of truth. But he who reads the Word from doctrine sees all things that confirm it, and many things that are hidden from the eyes of others, and does not permit himself to be drawn away into strange things; and thus his mind becomes so settled as to see with certainty.

The Word may be drawn away to confirm heresies unless it is read from doctrine, for the reason that the sense of its letter consists of mere correspondences, and these are in great part appearances of truth, and in part genuine truths, and unless there be doctrine for a lamp these cannot be seen and cannot be distinguished from each other.

But doctrine can be acquired from no other source than from the Word, and it can be acquired only by those who are in enlightenment from the Lord.

Those are in enlightenment who love truths because they are truths and make them to be of their life.

Moreover, all things of doctrine must be confirmed by the sense of the letter of the Word, because the Divine truth is in its fullness and in its power in that sense, and through it man is in conjunction with the Lord and in consociation with the angels.

In brief, he who loves truth because it is truth can inquire of the Lord, as it were, in doubtful matters of faith, and can receive answers from Him, but nowhere except in the Word, for the reason that the Lord is the Word.

(Apocalypse Explained 1089)
Posted in Christian, Church, Emanuel Swedenborg, Spirituality | Tagged ,

Cherubim — A Guard and Protection

Selection from Apocalypse Explained ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

The Divine truth is what is called holy, but only when it is in its ultimate, and its ultimate is the Word in the sense of the letter; therefore the Divine truth there [in the letter] is holy, and may be called a sanctuary, and for the reason that that sense contains and encloses all the holy things of heaven and the church. The appearance is that the Divine truths in the heavens, which are called spiritual and celestial, are more holy than the Divine truths in the sense of the letter of the Word, which are natural; but the Divine truths in the heavens, which are called spiritual and celestial, are comparatively like the lungs and heart in man, which form the chest only when they are encompassed by ribs, and enclosed in the pleura and diaphragm; for without these integuments they could not perform their vital functions, and even unless connected with them by bonds. The spiritual things of the Word are like the breathing of the lungs, its celestial things are like the systole and diastole of the heart, and its natural things are like the pleura, the diaphragm, and the ribs, with the moving fibers attached, by which the motions are made reciprocal.

Again, the spiritual and celestial things of the Word are comparatively like the holy things of the tabernacle, which were the table upon which was the show bread, the golden altar upon which was the incense, the perfumes and the censer, also the lampstand with the lamps, and still further within the cherubim, the mercy seat and the ark. All these were the holy things of the Jewish and Israelitish church; nevertheless they could not be called holy and the sanctuary until they had been covered by curtains and veils, for without those coverings they would have stood under the naked sky, exposed to showers and storms, to the birds of heaven and the wild beasts of the earth, and also to robbers that would violate, plunder, and scatter them. So would it be with the Divine truths in the heavens, which are called spiritual and celestial, unless they were enclosed in natural truths, like the truths of the sense of the letter of the Word.

Natural truths, which are the truths of the sense of the letter of the Word, are not the very truths of heaven, but are appearances of them; and appearances of truth encompass, enclose, and contain the truths of heaven, which are genuine truths, and cause them to be in connection and order and to act together, like the cardiac and pulmonary organs with their coverings and ribs, as has been said above; and when these truths are held in connection and in order they are holy, and not till then. This the sense of the letter of our Word does by means of the appearances of truth of which its ultimate consists; and this is why that sense is the holy Divine Itself and the sanctuary.

But he is greatly mistaken who separates appearances of truth from genuine truths and calls these appearances holy by themselves and from themselves, and not the sense of the letter holy by genuine truths and from them and together with them. He separates these who sees only the sense of the letter and does not explore its meaning, as those do who do not read the Word from doctrine.

The “cherubim” mean in the Word a guard and protection that the holy things of heaven be not violated, and that the Lord be approached only through love; consequently these signify the sense of the letter of the Word, because that is what guards and protects. It guards and protects in this manner that man can think and speak according to the appearances of truth so long as he is well-disposed, simple, and as it were an infant; but he must take heed not to so confirm appearances as to destroy the genuine truths in the heavens.

(Apocalypse Explained 1088:2-5)
(emphasis by editor)
Posted in Christian, Church, Emanuel Swedenborg | Tagged ,

The Chief Reason For The Lord’s Coming Into The World

Selection from Apocalypse Explained ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

All interior things — the spiritual and celestial things that are in the Words of the three heavens — are together in the ultimate sense of the Word, which is called the sense of the letter—

(for in its inmosts there are the things that are in the Word with the angels of the third heaven, and in its middle parts the things that are in the Words of the angels of the lower heavens, and these are encompassed by such things as exist in the nature of our world and are included in these)

so the sense of the letter of our Word is from all these.

From this it can be seen that the Divine truth is in its fullness in the sense of the letter of our Word.

That is said to be full which contains in itself all things prior, even from the first, or all things higher even from the highest; the ultimate is what includes these.

The fullness of the Word is like a general vessel of marble, in which are countless lesser vessels of crystal, and in these still more numerous vessels of precious stones, in and about which are the most delightful things of heaven which are for those who perform noble uses from the Word. That the Word is such is not evident to man while he is in the world; but it is evident to him when he becomes an angel. Because the Word is such in ultimates it follows that—

it is not the Word until it is in that ultimate, that is, until it is in the sense of the letter.

The Word not in that ultimate would be like a temple in the air and not on the earth, or like a man having flesh but without bones.

As the Divine truth is in its fullness and also in its power in its ultimate, for when it is in that it is in all things at once, therefore—

the Lord never works except from first things through ultimates, and thus in fullness.

For He reforms and regenerates man only through truths in ultimates, which are natural. And this is why a man after his departure out of the world remains to eternity such as he has been in the world. For the same reason heaven and hell are from the human race, and angels are not created immediately; for in the world a man is in his fullness, consequently he can there be conceived and born, and afterwards be imbued with knowledge, intelligence, and wisdom, and become an angel. To create angels in any other way is not given.

Because the Lord works all things from things first through ultimates, and is in His power and in His fullness in ultimates, therefore it pleased the Lord to take upon Him the Human and to become the Divine truth, that is, the Word, and thus from Himself to reduce to order all things of heaven and all things of hell, that is, to execute a Last Judgment. This the Lord could accomplish from the Divine in Himself, which was in things first, through His Human which was in ultimates—

and not, as before, from His presence or abode in the men of the church; for these had wholly forsaken the truths and goods of the Word, in which the Lord had previously had His dwelling-place with men.

This was the chief reason for the Lord’s coming into the world, also for making His Human Divine; for by this He put Himself into the power of holding all things of heaven and all things of hell in order to eternity.

This is meant by:

Sitting at the right hand of God (Mark 16:19).

“The right hand of God” means the Divine omnipotence, and “to sit at the right hand of God” means to be in that omnipotence through the Human. That the Lord ascended into heaven with His Human glorified even to the ultimates He testifies in Luke:

Jesus said to the disciples See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself, handle Me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye behold Me have (Luke 24:39).

This the Lord said just after His resurrection. “Flesh and bones” are the ultimates of the human body, on which its strength depends.

(Apocalypse Explained 1087:2-4)
Posted in Christian, Church, Emanuel Swedenborg, theology | Tagged , , ,

Evils of Life Rule When Spiritual Life Is Extinct

Excerpt for Apocalypse Explained ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

Where there is no spiritual life, there life is merely natural, and natural life apart from the spiritual is full of lusts from the love of self and the world, thus is infernal….

Moreover, in respect to the evil life … such may be the life as well with those who lead a good moral life, if they have no spiritual life; for such do good and speak truth and practice sincerity and justice but only because of reputation, honor, gain, and the laws, thus for the sake of appearance, that they may emulate those who are spiritual, while inwardly they have no will of good and no thought of truth, and laugh at sincerity and justice, unless for the causes mentioned above; consequently they are infernal within. This is also clearly manifest when such persons become spirits, which takes place immediately after death; then the external bonds mentioned above are taken away from them, and they then rush without restraint into evils of every kind. But it is otherwise with those who have led a good moral life from a spiritual origin.

This has been said to make known what is meant by an evil life, namely, that it is not the external life that pertains to the body and has reference to the world where men are, which is called the natural world, but is the internal life that pertains to the spirit and has reference to the world where angels are, which is called the spiritual world. For in respect to his body, its gestures and speech, man is in the natural world, but in respect to his spirit, that is, in respect to thought and affection, man is in the spiritual world; in fact, as the bodily sight has extension into the natural world and sweeps about there, so the sight of the spirit, which is thought from affection, has extension into the spiritual world and sweeps about there. That this is so is known to few; and it is therefore supposed that thinking evil and willing evil is of no consequence if only one does not do evil and speak evil; and yet every thought and volition affects the spirit of man and makes up his life after death.

(Apocalypse Explained 388:2)
Posted in Christian, Church, Emanuel Swedenborg, Spirituality

The Letter of the Word Lives Because of It’s Internal Sense

Selection from Arcana Cœlestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

if thou move a tool upon the altar thou wilt profane it — that which is from self-intelligence is in itself void of life, nay, is spiritually dead, for man’s own is nothing but evil; and therefore if Divine worship is performed from it [self-intelligence], this worship is nothing else than the worship of an idol, graven or molten, wherein there is no spirit, that is, no life. But that which is from the Word is alone serviceable for Divine worship, because it is in itself alive. For within everything of the Word there is a spiritual sense, which treats of the Lord’s kingdom; and within this sense is the Divine, because the Word in its inmost sense treats of the Lord alone; from this is the sanctity and the life of the Word, and not from any other source.

The Word is like a Divine man; the literal sense is as it were his body, but the internal sense is as it were his soul; which shows that the literal sense has life through the internal sense. It appears as if the literal sense vanishes or dies through the internal sense; but on the contrary it does not vanish, still less dies; but through the internal sense it lives. From all this it is now evident that worship truly Divine has its existence from those things which are of the Word, and in no case from those things which are of self-intelligence.

Hence it is that by “if thou move a tool upon the altar thou wilt profane it,” is signified, if thou devise not from the Word, but from self-intelligence such things as must be of Divine worship, there is no worship.

(Arcana Cœlestia 8943)
Posted in Christian, Church, Emanuel Swedenborg, Spiritual Growth | Tagged , , ,

Gaining a Right Interpretation of the Literal Sense of the Word

Selection from Arcana Cœlestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

And if men strive together, and one smite another with a stone, or with his fist, and he die not, but keepeth his bed: If he rise again, and walk abroad upon his staff, then shall he that smote him be quit: only he shall pay for the loss of his time, and shall cause him to be throughly healed.   Exodus 21:18-19    KJV.

And healing he shall heal him. That this signifies restoration, namely, by means of interpretation, is evident.  For if the things which are in the literal sense of the Word are looked at interiorly, they all agree together. This is circumstanced like that which is said in the Word about the sun, that it rises and sets, when yet it does not rise or set; but such an appearance is presented to the inhabitants of the earth, because the earth rotates every day around its axis. This natural truth lies hidden in the former, which is according to the appearance to the external sight.  If it had been said in the Word contrary to this appearance, the common people would not apprehend it, and what the common people do not apprehend they do not believe.

The case is similar with the Sun of heaven, which is the Lord, concerning which it is also said that it “rises,” but in hearts, when man is being regenerated; and also when he is in the good of love and faith; and that it “sets” when man is in evil and in the consequent falsity. And yet the Lord is continually in His rising, from which also He is called the “Sunrise,” or “East,” and He is never in any setting; nor does He turn Himself away from man, but man turns himself away from Him.  From this arises the appearance that the Lord turns away His face and also brings evil; and therefore it is also so said in the Word. This likewise is the truth, but apparent truth, thus it is not in conflict with the former. From all this it can now be seen what is meant in the internal sense by healing he shall heal,  namely, the restoration of spiritual truth, which is effected by means of a right interpretation of the memory-truth, or that of the literal sense of the Word.

The case is similar with every truth of the literal sense, for in the natural light, which is that of the sensuous man, this appears just as it is expressed in the Word, because the literal sense is natural, and is for the sensuous man.  But when the same is presented in the light of heaven, it then appears according to the internal sense; for this sense is spiritual, and is for the heavenly man, because those things which are of natural light vanish away in the light of heaven; for natural light is like shade or cloud, and heavenly light is like the glory and the brightness when the cloud is taken away. And therefore also the literal sense of the Word is called “a cloud,” and the internal sense “glory.”

By healing he shall heal is signified in the spiritual sense to restore, because disease and sickness signify the infirmity of the internal man, which infirmity exists when he is sick in respect to his life, which is the spiritual life; thus when he turns aside from truth to falsity, and from good to evil.  When this is the case, the spiritual life sickens; and when he wholly turns himself away from truth and good, it dies; but this death is called “spiritual death,” which is damnation.  As this is the case with the life of the internal man, therefore such things as relate to diseases and death in the natural world are said in the Word of the diseases of the spiritual life, and of its death. So also the cures of diseases, or healings, as in Isaiah:

Jehovah smiteth Egypt, smiting and healing; whence he turneth himself unto Jehovah, and He shall be entreated for them, and shall heal them (Isa. 19:22).

Surely He was pierced for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and in His wound we are healed (Isa. 53:5);

speaking of the Lord.

In Jeremiah:

Return, ye perverse sons, I will heal your backslidings (Jer. 3:22).

Behold, I will cause to come up to it cure and healing, and I will heal them; and I will reveal to them abundance of peace and truth (Jer. 33:6).

Go up to Gilead, and take balm, O virgin daughter of Egypt; in vain hast thou multiplied medicines; there is no healing for thee (Jer. 46:11).

And in Ezekiel:

By the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that, cometh up the tree for food, whose leaf falleth not, neither is the fruit consumed; it springeth up again in its months, because the waters thereof go forth out of the sanctuary; therefore the fruit thereof shall be for food, and the leaf thereof for medicines (Ezek. 47:12).

“The fruit which shall be for food” denotes the good of love and charity which is for the nourishment of the spiritual life; “the leaf which shall be for medicine” denotes the truths of faith which are for the refreshment and restoration of that life. …

As diseases and sicknesses, and also healings and medicines, are not said in the Word of the natural life, but of another life which is distinct from the natural life; it is therefore plain to him who gives some consideration to the matter, that man has another life, which is that of his internal man. They who have gross thoughts with respect to the life of man, believe that he has no other life than that of the body, which is the life of the external or natural man. They wonder what the life of the internal man may be, and even what the internal man is.  If they are told that that life is the life of faith and charity, and that the internal man is man’s spirit, which lives after death, and which is essentially the man himself, they wonder still more.  And such of them as live only for the body, and not for the soul, thus who are merely natural men, have no apprehension whatever of what is said about the life of faith and charity, and about the internal man, because their thought is merely from natural light, and not at all from spiritual light.  Wherefore also after death they remain gross in respect to thought, and live in the shadow of death, that is, in falsities from evil; and they are wholly in thick darkness, and blind to the light of heaven.

(Arcana Cœlestia 9031)
Posted in Christian, Church, Emanuel Swedenborg, Spiritual Growth, theology | Tagged ,

Everyone Becomes Imbued With The End He Has In View

Selection from True Christian Religion ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

Actual repentance is to examine oneself, to recognize one’s sins, to confess them before God, and thus to begin a new life.

To the Reformed Christian world, this repentance is a very difficult task. This is because some are unwilling and some are afraid to practice it; and continued neglect establishes a habit, induces unwillingness, and at length gains the endorsement of the reasoning intellect, and this with some produces sadness, dread, and terror at the thought of repentance.

Actual repentance is so extremely difficult in the Reformed Christian world chiefly because of their belief that repentance and charity contribute nothing to salvation, but faith alone, from the imputation of which forgiveness of sins, justification, renovation, regeneration, sanctification, and eternal salvation follow. Moreover, their dogmatic writers say that man’s cooperation of himself, or as if of himself, is useless, is an obstacle to Christ’s merit, and is repugnant and injurious to it.  And this idea is implanted in the minds of the common people, although they are ignorant of the mysteries of that faith, merely by the sayings, that “faith alone saves,” and who can possibly do good of himself?”  For this reason: repentance among the Reformed is like a nest of young birds deprived of the parent birds, which have been captured and killed by the fowler.

To this another reason may be added, that a so-called Reformed Christian is associated in the spiritual world as to his spirit, only with such as are like himself, who introduce such things into the ideas of his thought, and lead him away from the very first step toward self-inspection and self-examination. …

Habit is a second nature — what is easy for one is difficult for another; and this is true of self-examination and a confession of what is thereby discovered.

What is easier for a hired laborer, a porter, or a farmer, than to work with his hands from morning till evening, while a gentleman or a delicate person could not do the same work for half an hour without fatigue and sweating? … Every mechanic who is attentive to his task goes through it easily and willingly, and when he leaves it, longs to return; while another, who understands the same trade, but is indolent, can scarcely be driven to work. The same is true of everyone, whatever may be his office or pursuit.

To one diligent in piety, what is easier than to pray to God? while to one who is a slave to impiety, what is more difficult, and vice versa? What priest, preaching before a king for the first time, does not feel timid? but after doing it frequently he goes through boldly.  What is easier for an angelic man than to raise his eyes to heaven, or for a devilish man than to cast them down toward hell? But if the latter becomes a hypocrite, he too can look up to heaven, but his heart is turned away. Everyone becomes imbued with the end he has in view and the habit arising therefrom.

(True Christian Religion 561,563)
Posted in Christian, Church, Emanuel Swedenborg, Spiritual Growth | Tagged ,