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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. The Third Kind of Profanation

In the third kind of profanation are those who with devout gestures and pious utterance worship Divine things, and yet in heart and spirit deny them; thus who venerate the holy things of the Word and of the church and of worship outwardly or before the world, and yet at home or in secret deride them. When those of this class are in a holy external, and are teaching in a church or conversing with the common people, they do not know otherwise than that what they are saying is so; but as soon as they return into themselves their thought is reversed. Because these are such they can counterfeit angels of light, although they are angels of darkness.

From this it is clear that this kind of profanation is a hypocritical kind. They are not unlike images made of filth and gilded, or like fruits rotten within but with a beautiful skin, or like nuts eaten by worms within but with a whole shell. From all this it is evident that their internal is diabolical, and therefore that their holy external is profane.

Such are some of the rulers in the Babylon of the present day, and many of a certain society in Babylon, as those of them know who claim to themselves dominion over the souls of men and over heaven. For to believe as they do, that power has been given them to save and to admit into heaven, is the very opposite of acknowledging in heart that there is a God, and for the reason that man, in order to be saved and admitted into heaven, must look to the Lord and pray to Him. But a man who believes that such power has been given him looks to himself, and believes the things that are the Lord's to be in himself; and to believe this, and at the same time to believe that there is a God or that God is in him, is impossible. For a man to believe that God is in him when he thinks himself to be above the holy things of the church, and heaven to be in his power, is like ascribing that belief to Lucifer, who burns with the fire of ruling over all things. If such a man thinks that God is in him he cannot think this otherwise than from himself; and thinking from himself that God is in him is thinking not that God is in him, but that he himself is God, as is said of Lucifer in Isaiah (xiv. 13, 14), by whom is there meant Babylon, as is evident from the fourth and twenty-second verses of the same chapter.

Moreover, such a man of himself, when power is given him, shows forth what he is of himself, and this by degrees according to his elevation. From this it is clear that such are atheists, some avowedly, some clandestinely, and some ignorantly. And as they regard dominion as an end, and the holy things of heaven and the church as means, they counterfeit angels of light in face, gesture, and speech, and thus profane holy things. (A.E., n. 1058.)

Those who are in this kind of profanation, which is hypocritical, differ in this respect, that there are those who have less ability and those who have more ability to conceal the interiors of their mind, that they may not be disclosed, and to shape the exteriors, which pertain to face and mouth, into an expression of sanctity. When such after death become spirits they appear encompassed with a cloud, in the midst of which is something black, like an Egyptian mummy. But as they are raised up as it were into the light of heaven, that bright cloud changes to a diabolical duskiness, not from any shining through it, but from a breathing through it, and the consequent disclosing. In hell, therefore, these are black devils. The differences in this kind of profanation are known from the blackness, as being more or less horrifying. (A.E., n. 1059.) New Thought Magazine features the best of.

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