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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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II. The First Kind of Profanation

Profanations are of many kinds. The most grievous kind is when one acknowledges and lives according to the truths and goods of the Word, of the church, and of worship, and afterward denies them and lives contrary to them, or even lives contrary to them and does not deny them. Such profanation effects a conjunction and coherence of good with falsity, and of truth with evil, and from this it comes to pass that man is at the same time in heaven and in hell; consequently, when heaven wills to have its own, and hell wills to have its own, and yet they cohere, they are both swept away, and thus the proper human life perishes, and the man becomes like a brute animal, continually delirious, and carried hither and thither by fantasy like a dragon in the air, and in his fantasy shreds and specks appear like giants and crowds, and a little platter like the universe; and so on.

As such have no longer any human life they are not called spirits, but something profane, nor are they called he or she, but it; and when they are seen in the light of heaven they appear like dried skeletons. But this kind of profanation is rare, since the Lord provides against a man's entering into a belief in truth and a life of good unless he can be kept in them continually even to the end of his life. (A.E., n. 1047.)

It has been said that the most grievous kind of profanation is when the truths of the Word are acknowledged in faith and confirmed in the life, and man afterward recedes from faith and lives wickedly, or if he does not recede from faith he nevertheless lives wickedly. But one who is in faith and in a life according to it from childhood to youth, and afterward in adult age recedes from faith and from a life of faith, does not profane, for the reason that the faith of childhood is a faith of the memory, and is the master's faith in the child; while the faith of adult age is a faith of the understanding, and thus a man's own faith. This faith a man can profane if he recedes from it and lives contrary to it, but not the former. For nothing enters the life of a man and affects it except what comes into the understanding and from that into the will; and a man does not think from his own understanding and act from his own will until he arrives at adult age. Before that he has thought merely from knowledge and acted merely from obedience; and this does not make a part of his life, and therefore cannot be profaned.

In a word, whatever a man thinks, speaks, and does, from the understanding with the will favoring it, this belongs to his life or comes to be of his life; and if this is holy it is profaned by his receding. But the profanations of this kind are more or less grievous according to the quality of the truth and the consequent faith, and according to the quality of the good and the consequent life, and according to the quality of the withdrawal from these; and therefore there are many specific differences in this profanation. (A.E., n. 1049.)

Why the state of profaners after death is so horrible shall be disclosed. Man has two minds, a natural and a spiritual. The natural mind is opened to him by knowledges (scientiae et cognitiones) of truth and good, and the spiritual mind is opened by a life according to these; and this is effected in those who know, acknowledge, and believe the truths of the Word and live according to them. In others that mind is not opened. When the spiritual mind has been opened, the light of heaven, which is Divine truth, flows through it into the natural mind, and there arranges truths in a corresponding order. Therefore when a man passes over into a contrary state, and either in faith or life denies the truths of the Word that he has previously acknowledged, the things that are in the natural mind no longer correspond with those that are in the spiritual mind; consequently heaven with its light flows in through the spiritual mind into non-corresponding things, or into things opposite to those that correspond in the natural man; and from this a fantasy arises that is so direful that they seem to themselves to fly in the air like dragons, while shreds and specks appear to them like giants and crowds, and a little ball like the whole globe, and other like things. The reason of this is that they have heaven in the spiritual mind and hell in the natural mind, and when heaven, which is in the spiritual mind, acts into hell, which is in the natural mind, such things appear. And as this destroys all things pertaining to the understanding, and the will with the understanding, the man comes to be no longer a man. And this is why a profaner is no longer called a man, nor he or she, but it, for he is a brute. (A.E., n. 1050.)

This kind of profanation exists especially in those who acknowledge the Lord and His Divine, and the Word and its holiness; and for the reason that the Lord alone by means of truths from the Word opens heaven to the man who lives according to those truths; and unless heaven is opened such profanation is not possible. And this shows why the Gentiles, who are ignorant of the Lord and know nothing about the Word, cannot bring upon themselves such profanation; neither can the Jews, for they deny the Lord from their infancy, and heaven is not opened to them by means of the Word; neither can the impious who have been such from childhood; for, as has been said, those only profane who believe rightly and live rightly, and afterward believe wrongly and live wrongly. Besides this kind of profanation there are other kinds that shall be treated of. (A.E., n. 1051.) New Thought Books uplift the soul.

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