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Spiritual Life and the Word of God Emanuel Swedenborg

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Spiritual Life and the Word of God

by Emanuel Swedenborg

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IV. Cleansing the Inside

It is acknowledged that man's interior must be purified before the good that he does is good; for the Lord says,

"Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup and of the platter, that the outside may be clean also" (Matt. xxiii. 26).

Man's interior is purified only as he refrains from evils, in accordance with the commandments of the Decalogue. So long as man does not refrain from these evils and does not shun and turn away from them as sins, they constitute his interior, and are like an interposed veil or covering, and in heaven this appears like an eclipse by which the sun is obscured and light is intercepted; also like a fountain of pitch or of black water, from which nothing emanates but what is impure. That which emanates therefrom and that appears before the world as good is not good, because it is defiled by evils from within, for it is Pharisaic and hypocritical good. This good is good from man and is meritorious good. It is otherwise when evils have been removed by a life according to the commandments of the Decalogue.

Now since evils must be removed before goods can become good the Ten Commandments were the first of the Word, being promulgated from Mount Sinai before the Word was written by Moses and the prophets. And these do not set forth goods that must be done, but evils that must be shunned. For the same reason these commandments are the first things to be taught in the churches; for they are taught to boys and girls in order that man may begin his Christian life with them, and by no means forget them as he grows up; although he does so. The same is meant by these words in Isaiah:

"What is the multitude of sacrifices" to Me? Your meat offering, your incense, "your new moons, and your appointed feasts, My soul hateth. . . And when you multiply prayer I will not hear. . . Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before Mine eyes; cease to do evil . . . . Then though your sins were as scarlet they shall be white as snow; though they were red as purple they shall be as wool" (i. 11-19).

"Sacrifices," "meat offerings," "incense," "new moons," and "feasts," also "prayer," mean all things of worship. That these are wholly evil and even abominable unless the interior is purified from evils is meant by "Wash you, make you clean, put away the evil of your doings, and cease to do evil." That afterward they are all goods is meant by words that follow. (A.E., n. 939.)

When man's interior is purified from evils by his refraining from them and shunning them because they are sins, the internal which is above it, and which is called the spiritual internal, is opened. This communicates with heaven; consequently man is then admitted into heaven and is conjoined to the Lord.

There are two internals in man, one beneath and the other above. While man lives in the world he is in the internal which is beneath and from which he thinks, for it is natural. This may be called for the sake of distinction the interior. But the internal that is above is that into which man comes after death when he enters heaven. All angels of heaven are in this internal, for it is spiritual. This internal is opened to the man who shuns evils as sins; but it is kept closed to the man who does not shun evils as sins.

This internal is kept closed to the man who does not shun evils as sins, because the interior, that is, the natural internal, until man has been purified from sins, is hell; and so long as there is hell there heaven cannot be opened; but as soon as hell has been set aside it is opened. But let it be noted that in the measure in which the spiritual internal and heaven are opened to man, the natural internal is purified from the hell that is there. This is not done at once, but successively by degrees. All this makes clear that man from himself is hell, and that man is made a heaven by the Lord, consequently that he is snatched out of hell by the Lord, and raised up into heaven to the Lord, not without means but through means; and these means are the commandments just mentioned, by which the Lord leads him who wishes to be led. (A.E., n. 940.)

When the spiritual internal is opened, and through it communication with heaven and conjunction with the Lord are granted, enlightenment takes place with man. He is enlightened especially when he reads the Word, because the Lord is in the Word, and the Word is Divine truth, and Divine truth is light to angels. Man is enlightened in the rational, for this directly underlies the spiritual internal, and receives light from heaven and transfers it into the natural when it is purified from evils, filling it with the knowledges of truth and good, and adapting to them the knowledges (scientiae) that are from world, for the sake of proof and agreement. Thus man has a rational, and thus he has an understanding. He who believes that man has a rational and an understanding before his natural has been purified from evils is deceived, for the understanding is seeing truths of the church from the light of heaven; and the light of heaven does not flow into those not purified. And as the understanding is perfected, the falsities of religion and of ignorance and all fallacies are dispersed. (A.E., n. 941.)

When a man has been admitted by the opening of his internal into heaven, and receives light therefrom, the same affections that angels of heaven have, with their pleasures and delights, are communicated to him. The first affection then granted is an affection for truth; the second is an affection for good; and the third is an affection for bringing forth fruits. For when a man has been admitted into heaven and into its light and heat he is like a tree growing from its seed. His first budding forth is from enlightenment; his blossoming before the fruit is from an affection for truth; the putting forth of fruit that follows is from an affection for good; the multiplication of itself again into trees is from an affection for producing fruit. The heat of heaven, which is love, and the light of heaven, which is the understanding of truth from that love, bring forth in subjects of life things like those that the heat of the world and its light bring forth in subjects not of life. That like things are brought forth is from correspondence. But in both cases the production is effected in springtime; and springtime in man is when he enters heaven, which is effected when his spiritual internal is opened; before that it is the time of winter to him. (A.E., n. 942.)

Man has affection for truth when he loves truth and turns away from falsity. He has an affection for good when he loves good uses and turns away from evil uses. He has an affection for bringing forth fruit when he loves to do goods and to be serviceable. All heavenly joy is in these affections and from them, and this joy cannot be described by comparisons, for it is supereminent and eternal. (A.E., n. 943.)

Into this state the man comes who shuns evils because they are sins, and looks to the Lord; and so far as he comes into this state he turns away from and hates evils as sins, and acknowledges in heart and worships the Lord only, and His Divine in the Human. This is a summary. (A.E., n. 944.)

When a man is in that state he is raised up from what is his own (proprium); for a man is in what is his own (proprium) when he is only in the natural external, but he is raised up from what is his own (proprium) when he is in the spiritual internal. This raising up from what is his own man perceives only by this, that he does not think evils, and that he turns away from thinking them, and takes delight in truths and in good uses. And yet if such a man advances further into that state he perceives influx by a kind of thought; but he is not withheld from thinking and willing as if from himself, for this the Lord wills for the sake of reformation. Nevertheless, man should acknowledge that nothing of good or of truth therefrom is from himself, but all is from the Lord. (A.E., n. 945.)

It follows from this that when man shuns and turns away from evils as sins and is raised up into heaven by the Lord, he is not longer in what is his own (proprium), but in the Lord, and thus he thinks and wills goods. Again, since man acts as he thinks and wills, for every act of man goes forth from the thought of his will, it follows that when he shuns and turns away from evils he does goods from the Lord and not from self; and this is why shunning evils is doing goods. The goods that a man does in this way are what are meant by good works; and good works in their whole complex are what are meant by charity. Man cannot be reformed unless he thinks, wills, and does as if from himself, since that which is done as if by the man himself is conjoined to him and remains with him, while that which is not done as if by the man himself, not being received in any life of sense, flows through like ether; and this is why the Lord wills that man should not only shun and turn away from evils as if of himself, but should also think, will, and do as if of himself, and yet acknowledge in heart that all these things are from the Lord. This he must acknowledge because it is the truth. (A.E., n. 946.) Divine Singles are our soulmates

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