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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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V. The Fourth and Fifth Kinds of Profanation

A fourth kind of profanation is to live a life of piety, by frequenting churches, listening devoutly to preachings, observing the sacrament of the Supper, and the other appointed forms of worship, reading the Word at home, and sometimes books of devotion, and habitually praying morning and evening, and yet making the precepts of life that are in the Word, particularly in the Decalogue, of no account, by acting dishonestly and unjustly in business and in judgments for the sake of gain or influenced by friendship; committing whoredom and adultery when lust inflames and urges; burning with hate and revenge against those who do not favor their gain or honor; lying, and speaking evil of the good, and good of the evil, and so on. When a man is in these evils, and has not been purified from them by turning away from them and hating them, and still worships God devoutly, as has been said above, then he profanes; for he mingles his internals which are impure with externals that are pious, and these he defiles.

For there can be nothing external that does not proceed and have existence from internals. The actions and speech of man are his externals, and thoughts and volitions are his internals. Man can speak only from thought, and can act only from volition. When the life of the thoughts and of the will is infected with craft, cunning, and violence, it must needs be that these, as interior evils of the life, will flow into the speech and actions pertaining to worship and piety, and defile them as filth defiles waters.

This worship is what is meant by "Gog and Magog" (Apoc. xx. 8), and is thus described in Isaiah:

"What is the multitude of sacrifices unto Me, meat offerings, incense, sabbaths, new moons, appointed feasts, and prayers, when your hands are full of bloods? Wash you, make you clean, put away the wickedness of your doings . . . ; cease to do evil" (i. 11-19).

This kind of profanation is not hypocritical like the former, because the man who is in it believes that he will be saved by external worship separate from internal, and does not know that the worship by which he can be saved is external worship from internal. (A.E., n. 1061.)

Those who give themselves up wholly to a life of piety, who walk continually in pious meditations, who pray frequently upon their knees, and talk about salvation, faith, and love at all times and in all places, and yet do not shun frauds, adulteries, hatreds, blasphemies, and the like, as sins against God, nor fight against them, such are the kind that are more fully profaners; for by the impurities of their minds they defile the piety of their lips, especially when they renounce the world and lead solitary lives. Of this kind there are some who are still more profaners; these are like those just described, but by reasonings and by the Word falsely interpreted they defend their vices as adulteries and lusts that belong to their nature, and thus to their enjoyment. Such first regard themselves as free from danger, afterward as blameless, and at length as holy; and thus under the veil of sanctity they cast themselves into uncleannesses with which both themselves and their garments are polluted. (A.E., n. 1062.)

To this class of profaners those especially belong who read the Word and know about the Lord; because from the Lord through the Word are all things holy that can be profaned; things not from that source cannot be profaned. That is said to be profane that is the opposite of what is holy, and that offers violence to what is holy and destroys it. From this it follows that those who do not read the Word and do not approach the Lord, as is the case with the Papists, still less those who know nothing about the Lord and the Word, like the Gentiles, do not belong to this class of profaners.

Those who belong to this class of profaners appear after death at first with a face of human color, around which float many wandering stars; and those of them that had been leaders sometimes appear shining about the lips. But as they are brought into the light of heaven, the stars and the shining of the lips vanish, and the color of the face is changed to black, and likewise their garments. But the blackness of these profaners tends to blue, as the blackness of the other kind of profaners tends to red, for the reason that the latter profane the goods of the Word and of the church, while the others profane the truths of the Word and of the church. For red derives from the sun its signification of good, while blue derives from the sky its signification of truth. (A.E., n. 1063.)

The fifth kind of profanation is not like the others that have been treated of, for it consists in jesting from the Word and about the Word. For those who make jokes from the Word do not regard it as holy, and those who joke about it hold it in no esteem. And yet the Word is the very Divine truth of the Lord with men, and the Lord is present in the Word, and heaven also; for every particular of the Word communicates with heaven, and through heaven with the Lord; therefore to jest from the Word or about the Word is to bespatter the holy things of heaven with the dust of the earth. (A.E., n. 1064.) New Thought Days are days of joy

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