God’s Word

In is inmosts of a sacred scripture is no other than God, that is, the Divine which proceeds from God….. In its derivatives it is accommodated to the perception of angels and men. In these it is Divine likewise, but in another form, in which this Divine is a called “Celestial,” “Spiritual,” and “Natural.” These are no other than coverings of God. Still the Divine, which is inmost, and is a covered with such things as are accommodated to the perceptions of angels and men, shines forth like light through crystalline forms, but variously, according to the state of mind which a man has formed for himself, either from God, or from self. In the sight of the man who has formed the state of his mind from God, the Sacred Scripture is like a mirror in the which he sees God, each in his own way.

The truths which he learns from the Word and which become a part of him by a life according to them, compose that mirror. The Sacred Scripture is the fullness of God. — True Christianity, Section 6

from The Gist of Swedenborg: The Light of Love and Truth

True Christianity:

Section 6: Published 4/28/2017

A World of Action

Old heaven’s delights are united to uses and inhere in them, because uses are the goods of love and charity, in which the angels are. The angels find all the happiness in use, from use, and according to use. There is the highest freedom in this because it proceeds from interior affection, and is conjoined with ineffable delight. Uses exist in the heavens in all variety and diversity. Never is the use of one angel quite the same as that of another; nor the delight. What is more, the delights of any one person’s use are countless.

These countless and various delights are nevertheless united in an order so that they mutually regard one another, as do the uses of every member, organ, and the inner part of the body. They are even more like the uses of each vessel and fiber in every member, organ and vital part; each and all of which are so related that they regard each of its own good in the other, and thus in all, and all in each. As a result of this general and several regard they act as one. — Heaven and Hell, Sections 402-405

from The Gist of Swedenborg: The Light of Love and Truth

Heaven and Hell:

Sections 402-405: Published 8/13/2019-8/17/2019

Toward the Morning of Life (Continued)

The people of heaven are continually advancing towards the spring-time of life; and the more thousands of years they live, the more delightful and happy is the spring to which they attain. Women who have died old and worn out with age, and have lived in faith in the Lord and in charity to the neighbor, come, with the succession of years, more and more into the flower of youth and early womanhood, and into a beauty exceeding every idea of beauty ever formed through the sight. In a word, to grow old in heaven is to grow young. — Heaven and Hell, Section 414

from The Gist of Swedenborg: The Light of Love and Truth


Toward the Morning of Life

The Lord is present with every human being, urgent, and instant to be received; and when a man receives Him, as he does when he acknowledges Him as his God, Creator, Redeemer and Savior, then is His first Coming, which is called the dawn.

From this time the man begins to be enlightened, as to understanding in things spiritual, and to advance into a more and more interior wisdom. As he receives his wisdom from the Lord, so he advances through morning into day, and this day lasts with him into old age, even to death; and after death he passes into heaven to the Lord Himself, and there, though he died an old man, he is restored to the morning of his life, and to eternity he develops the beginnings of the wisdom that was implanted in the natural world. — True Christian Religion, Section 766

from The Gist of Swedenborg: The Light of Love and Truth

Those Who Have Never Practiced Repentance or Looked at or Studied Themselves Eventually Do Not Even Know What Damnable Evil or Saving Goodness Is (Continued)

Our earthly self is like an animal. Over the course of our lives we take on the image of an animal. Because of this, sense-oriented people in the spiritual world appear surrounded by animals of every kind. These animals are correspondences. Regarded on its own, our earthly self is only an animal, but because a spiritual level has been added to it we are capable of becoming human. If we decline to undergo this transformation, even though we have the faculties that make it possible, we can still pretend to be human although we are then actually just animals that can talk. In that case our talking is based on earthly rationality, but our thinking is based on spiritual insanity; our actions are based on earthly morality, but our love is based on spiritual satyriasis. To someone else who has a rationality that is spiritual, our actions seem almost exactly like the frenzied dancing of someone bitten by a tarantula, called Saint Vitus’s or Saint Guy’s dance.

As we all know, a hypocrite can talk about God, a robber can talk about honesty, an adulterer can talk about being a faithful spouse, and so on. We have the ability to close and open the door that stands between what we think and what we say, and the door that stands between what we intend and what we do (the doorkeeper is prudence or else deceitfulness). Without the ability to close these doors, we would quickly fall into acts of wickedness and cruelty with greater savagery than any animal. That door is opened in us all after death, though, and then it becomes apparent what we truly are. Then the forces that keep us in check are punishment and imprisonment in hell.

Therefore, kind reader, take a look inside yourself, diligently search out one evil or another within yourself, and turn away from it for religious reasons. If you turn away from it for any other reason or purpose, you are only doing so so that it will no longer appear before the world.

from True Christianity, Section 566

Those Who Have Never Practiced Repentance or Looked at or Studied Themselves Eventually Do Not Even Know What Damnable Evil or Saving Goodness Is (Continued)

Allow me to briefly describe people whose rationality and morality are merely earthly. Such people are truly sense-oriented. If they continue in this direction, they become bodily or carnal. The description that follows will be presented as a list of points in outline form.

“Sensory” is a term for the lowest level of life within the human mind; it clings, and is closely joined, to the five senses of the human body.

“Sense-oriented people” are people who judge everything on the basis of their physical senses—people who will not believe anything unless they can see it with their eyes and touch it with their hands. What they can see and touch they call “something.” Everything else they reject.

The inner levels of their mind, levels that see in heaven’s light, are closed to the point where they see nothing true related to heaven or the church. Their thinking occurs on an outermost level and not inside, where the light is spiritual. Since the light they have is dull and earthly, people like this are inwardly opposed to things related to heaven and the church, although they are outwardly able to speak in favor of them. If they have hope of gaining ruling power or wealth by so doing, they are even capable of speaking ardently in favor of them.

The educated and the scholarly who are deeply convinced of falsities—especially people who oppose the truths in the Word—are more sense-oriented than others.

Sense-oriented people are able to reason sharply and skillfully, because their thinking is so close to their speech as to be practically in it—almost inside their lips; and also because they attribute all intelligence solely to the ability to speak from memory. They also have great skill at defending things that are false. After they have defended falsities convincingly, they themselves believe those falsities are true. They base their reasoning and defense on mistaken impressions from the senses that the public finds captivating and convincing.

Sense-oriented people are more deceptive and ill intentioned than others.

Misers, adulterers, and deceitful people are especially sense-oriented, although before the world they appear smart.

The inner areas of their mind are disgusting and filthy; they use them to communicate with the hells. In the Word they are called the dead.

The inhabitants of hell are sense-oriented. The more sense-oriented they are, the deeper in hell they are. The sphere of hellish spirits is connected to the sensory level of our mind through a kind of back door. In the light of heaven the backs of their heads look hollowed out.

The ancients had a term for people who debate on the basis of sense impressions alone: they called them serpents of the tree of the knowledge [of good and evil].

Sense impressions ought to have the lowest priority, not the highest. For wise and intelligent people, sense impressions do have the lowest priority and are subservient to things that are deep inside. For unwise people, sense impressions have the highest priority and are in control. If sense impressions have the lowest priority, they help open a pathway for the intellect. We then extrapolate truths by a method of extraction.

Sense impressions stand closest to the world and admit information that is coming in from it; they sift through that information.

We are in touch with the world by means of sense impressions and with heaven by means of impressions on our rationality.

Sense impressions supply things that serve the inner realms of the mind. There are sense impressions that feed the intellect and sense impressions that feed the will.

Unless our thought is lifted above the level of our sense impressions, we have very little wisdom. When our thinking rises above sense impressions, it enters a clearer light and eventually comes into the light of heaven. From this light we become aware of things that are flowing down into us from heaven.

The outermost contents of our intellect are earthly information. The outermost contents of our will are sensory pleasures.

from True Christianity, Section 565

Those Who Have Never Practiced Repentance or Looked at or Studied Themselves Eventually Do Not Even Know What Damnable Evil or Saving Goodness Is

Since only a few people in the Protestant Christian world practice repentance, it is important to add that those who have not looked at or studied themselves eventually do not even know what damnable evil or saving goodness is, because they lack the religious practice that would allow them to find out. The evil that we do not see, recognize, or admit to stays with us; and what stays with us becomes more and more firmly established until it blocks off the inner areas of our minds. As a result, we become first earthly, then sense-oriented, and finally bodily. In these cases we do not know of any damnable evil or any saving goodness. We become like a tree on a hard rock that spreads its roots into the crevices in the rocks and eventually dries up because it has no moisture.

All people who were brought up properly are rational and moral. There are different ways of being rational, however: a worldly way and a heavenly way. People who have become rational and moral in a worldly way but not also in a heavenly way are rational and moral only in word and gesture. Inwardly they are animals, and predatory animals at that, because they are in step with the inhabitants of hell, all of whom are like that. People who have become rational and moral in a heavenly way as well, however, are truly rational and truly moral, because they have these qualities in spirit as well as in word and deed. Something spiritual lies hidden within their words and actions like the soul that activates their earthly, sense-oriented, and bodily levels. Such people are in step with the inhabitants of heaven.

Therefore there is such a thing as a rational, moral person who is spiritual, and such a thing as a rational, moral person who is only earthly. In the world you cannot tell them apart, especially if their hypocrisy is well rehearsed. Angels in heaven can tell the two apart, however, as easily as telling doves from eagle-owls or sheep from tigers.

Those who are only earthly can see good and evil qualities in others and criticize them, but because they have never looked at or studied themselves, they see no evil in themselves. If someone else discovers an evil in them, they use their rational faculty to hide it, as a snake hides its head in the dust; then they plunge themselves into that evil the way a hornet dives into dung.

Their delight in evil is what has this blinding effect. It surrounds them like a fog over a swamp, absorbing and suffocating rays of light. This is the nature of hellish delight. It radiates from hell and flows into every human being, but only into the soles of our feet, our back, and the back of our head. If we receive that inflow with our forehead and our chest, however, we are slaves to hell, because the human cerebrum serves the intellect and its wisdom, whereas the cerebellum serves the will and its love. This is why we have two brains. The only thing that can amend, reform, and turn around hellish delight of the kind just mentioned is a rationality and morality that is spiritual.

from True Christianity, Section 564

Active Repentance Is Easy for People Who Have Done It a Few Times; Those Who Have Not Done It, However, Experience Tremendous Inner Resistance to It (Continued)

It is well known that habits form a kind of second nature, and therefore what is easy for one person is difficult for another. This applies also to examining ourselves and confessing what we have found.

It is easy for manual laborers, porters, and farm workers to work with their arms from morning till evening, but a delicate person of the nobility cannot do the same work for half an hour without fatigue and sweating. It is easy for a forerunner with a walking stick and comfortable shoes to ply the road for miles, whereas someone used to riding in a carriage has difficulty jogging slowly from one street to the next.

All artisans who are devoted to their craft pursue it easily and willingly, and when they are away from it they long to get back to it; but it is almost impossible to force a lazy person with the same skills to practice that craft. The same goes for everyone who has some occupation or pursuit.

What is easier for someone who is pursuing religious devotion than praying to God? And what is more difficult for someone who is enslaved to ungodliness?

All priests are afraid the first time they preach before royalty. But after they get used to it, they go on boldly.

What is easier for angelic people than lifting their eyes up to heaven? What is easier for devilish people than casting their eyes down to hell? (If they are hypocrites, however, they can look toward heaven in a similar way, but with aversion of heart.)

We are all saturated with the goal we have in mind and the habits that result from it.

from True Christianity, Section 563

Active Repentance Is Easy for People Who Have Done It a Few Times; Those Who Have Not Done It, However, Experience Tremendous Inner Resistance to It (Continued)

I have asked many Protestants in the spiritual world why they did not practice active repentance, even though in all their denominations they were commanded to do so in the Word and in baptism and also before coming to Holy Communion.

They had various responses.

Some said that it is enough just to feel contrition and then to orally confess to being a sinner.

Some said that repentance of the type mentioned above, because it is something we have to do of our own will, is not in agreement with the faith that is universally received.

Some said, “Who could examine themselves when they know they are nothing but sin? It would be like casting a net into a lake that is full from top to bottom of bad-smelling muck that contains stinging worms!”

Some said, “Who would be able to look so deeply into themselves that they could see the sin of Adam inside, as the source of all their actual evils? Aren’t their evils and the sin of Adam washed away by the waters of baptism, and wiped away or completely covered over by the merit of Christ? What is repentance in that case but an imposition that seriously disturbs the conscientious? Surely, because of the Gospel we are under grace and not under the hard law of that repentance.” And so on.

Some said that when they set out to examine themselves, they are seized with dread and terror as if they had seen a monster next to their bed at twilight.

These responses reveal why active repentance in the Protestant Christian world is, so to speak, neglected and moldy.

In the presence of these same people I asked some Roman Catholics about their acts of confession before their ministers and whether they experienced inner resistance to confession. They answered that after they were initiated into it, they were not afraid to list their misdeeds before a confessor who was not severe. They even felt some pleasure in compiling their list, and would laugh when they said some of the lighter things out loud, although they would state the serious ones a little more timidly. Every year, at the time established by custom of years past, they would go back willingly again. After absolution, they would celebrate. They also mentioned that they regarded as impure any people who were unwilling to disclose the uncleanness in their hearts.

When the Protestants who were present heard all this, they ran away. Some were laughing and guffawing; some were shocked but also gave the Catholics praise.

Afterward some other people came along who were Catholic but had lived in Protestant areas. According to the customary practice there, they had gone before their priest and made not a specific confession like their companions from elsewhere in Catholicism but only a general confession. These people said that they were utterly unable to examine themselves, to investigate or divulge either the evils they had done or the secret evils in their thoughts. They felt as much resistance and terror as they would crossing through a ditch to climb ramparts where an armed soldier was shouting, “Stop! Go no farther.”

This makes it clear that active repentance is easy for those who have done it a few times, but those who have not done it experience tremendous resistance to it.

from True Christianity, Section 562

Active Repentance Is Easy for People Who Have Done It a Few Times; Those Who Have Not Done It, However, Experience Tremendous Inner Resistance to It

Active repentance is examining ourselves, recognizing [and admitting to] our sins, confessing them before the Lord, and beginning a new life. This accords with the description of it under the preceding headings. People in the Protestant Christian world—by which I here mean all [Christians] who have separated from the Roman Catholic Church, and also people who belong to that church but have not practiced active repentance—experience tremendous inner resistance to such repentance, for various reasons. Some do not want to do it. Some are afraid. They are in the habit of not doing it, and this breeds first unwillingness, and then intellectual and rational support for not doing it, and in some cases, grief, dread, and terror of it.

The primary reason for the tremendous resistance to active repentance among Protestant Christians is their belief that repentance and goodwill contribute nothing to their salvation. They believe that faith alone brings salvation; when faith is assigned to us, it comes with forgiveness of sins, justification, renewal, regeneration, sanctification, and eternal salvation, without our having to cooperate either actually on our own or even seemingly on our own. The teachers of their dogma call this cooperation of ours useless, and even a roadblock that is resistant and harmful to [our reception of] Christ’s merit. Although the lay public is ignorant of the mysteries of this faith, its teaching has nevertheless been sown in them through just a few words: “Faith alone saves,” and “Who among us can do anything good on our own?”

This has made repentance among Protestants like a nest of baby birds abandoned by parents who were caught and killed by a bird-catcher.

An additional cause of this resistance is that in spirit, so-called Reformed people are among spirits in the spiritual world who are no different than they are, who introduce these reactions into their thinking and steer them away from the first step of introspection and self-examination.

from True Christianity, Section 561