Man ought to compel himself, and in this Compulsion is the highest

Man ought to compel himself, and in this Compulsion is the highest

That man ought to compel himself to do good, to obey the things which the Lord has commanded, and to speak truths,—which is to humble himself beneath the Lord’s hands, or to submit himself under the power of Divine good and truth,—implies and involves more arcana than it is possible to unfold in a few words. There are certain spirits who held as a principle while they lived in the world,—because they heard that all good was from the Lord, and that man could do no good of himself,— that they were not to compel themselves to anything, but to resign themselves; believing that because it is so all effort would be vain. They therefore waited for immediate influx into their will’s endeavour, and did not compel themselves to do any good; yea to such a degree that when any evil crept in, because they felt no resistance from within, they gave themselves up to it, thinking it to have been so permitted. But such is their character that they are as it were without any mind of their own [absque proprio], and thus have no resolution. They are therefore among the more useless; for they suffer themselves to be led alike by the wicked and by the good, and endure much from the wicked. But they that have compelled themselves to act against evil and falsity, although at first they thought that this was done from themselves, or of their own power, yet,—being afterwards enlightened to see that their effort was from the Lord, yea even the least of all things pertaining to the effort,—they cannot be led by evil spirits in the other life, but are among the happy. It is evident then that a man ought to force himself to do good, and to speak truth. The arcanum herein concealed is this: That man is hereby gifted of the Lord with a heavenly proprium. [Proprium,—for which we have no equivalent word in our language,—is literally that which is man’s own, or which constitutes his distinctive individuality.] Man’s heavenly proprium is formed in the thought’s endeavour; and if he does not obtain it by compelling himself, as the appearance is, he never does by not compelling himself. To make it plain how this is; in all self-compulsion to good there is a certain freedom, which is not so much apperceived while in the act of compulsion, yet still it is within. Just as when one determines to subject himself to the hazard of losing life with a view to some end, or determines to undergo a painful operation for the recovery of his health; there is a certain willingness, and therefore liberty, from which he acts in those determinations, although the hazards and the pains while he is in them take away the perception of such willingness or freedom. So it is with those who compel themselves to good. There is within a willingness and therefore freedom, from which and for the sake of that to which they compel themselves; namely, for the sake of obedience to those things which the Lord has commanded, and for the sake of the salvation of their souls after death. And within these is a still interior motive which a man is not cognizant of, that of regard for the Lord’s kingdom, yea for the Lord Himself. This occurs especially in temptations, in which, when man compels himself in opposition to the evil and falsity which are infused and suggested by evil spirits, there is more of freedom than ever in any state out of temptations, although man cannot then conceive of it. It is an interior freedom, from which he determines to subdue the evil; and so strongly as to be equal in force and resoluteness to the evil which assaults him; otherwise he would never engage in the contest. This freedom is of the Lord, who insinuates it into man’s conscience, and thereby causes him to conquer the evil as if by his own [power]. Through this freedom man receives a proprium, in which good can be wrought by the Lord. Without a something of his own [absque proprio] acquired, that is given through freedom, no man can be reformed, because he cannot receive the new will which is conscience. Freedom thus bestowed is the very plane into which the influx of good and truth from the Lord descends. Hence it is that they that do not resist in temptations from this willingness or freedom are overcome. In all freedom there is the life of man, because this is his love; whatever a man does from love appears free to him. And in that freedom in which a man compels himself in opposition to evil and falsity, and to do good, there is heavenly love; which the Lord then insinuates, and by which he creates his proprium. Therefore the Lord wills that this should appear to man as his, -although it is not his. This proprium which he thus receives, by apparent compulsion in the life of the body, is filled by the Lord in the other life with indefinite delights and happinesses. They who receive this are by degrees enlightened, yea confirmed, in the truth that they have compelled themselves not in the least from themselves, but that every slightest effort of their will was from the Lord; and that the purpose of its appearing to be from themselves was, that a new will might be given them by the Lord as theirs, and that thus the life of heavenly love might be appropriated to them. For the Lord desires to communicate to every one what is His, that is what is heavenly, so that it may appear as his own, and in him, although it is not his. The angels are in such a proprium; and so far as they are in the truth that all good and truth is from the Lord, they are in the delight and happiness of that proprium. But they who despise and reject all that is good and true, and are unwilling to believe anything which is repugnant to their lusts and reasonings, cannot compel themselves, and therefore cannot receive this proprium of conscience, or new will. From what has been said above it is also plain that to compel one’s self is not to be compelled; for no good ever comes of being compelled, as when a man is compelled by another man to do good. But that in this matter to compel himself is to act from a certain freedom unrecognised by him; for there is never anything compulsory from the Lord. Hence it is a universal law, that all good and truth is implanted in freedom; otherwise the ground is not at all recipient and nutritive of good, nay, there is no ground in which the seed can grow. (AC n 1937)

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