Reformation and Regeneration

Reformation and Regeneration

There are two states into and through which a man must pass while from natural he is becoming spiritual. The first state is. called Reformation; and-the second Regeneration. In the first state man looks from his natural condition to a spiritual, and desires it; in the second state he becomes spiritual-natural. The first state is formed by means of truths,—which will become truths of faith,—through which he looks to charity; the second is formed by means of the goods of charity, and by these he. enters into the truths of faith. Or what is the same, the first is a state of thought from the understanding; and the second of love from the will. When this latter state begins, and while it is progressing, a change takes place in the mind. For a reversal is effected; because now the love of the will flows into the understanding, and actuates and leads it to think in harmony and agreement with its love. Wherefore, so far as the good of love now acts the first part, and the truths of faith the second, man is spiritual and is a new creature. And then he acts from charity and speaks from faith, and feels the good of charity and perceives the truth of faith; and he is then in the Lord, and in peace, and thus is regenerate. A man who in the world has entered the first state, after death can be introduced into the second; but he who in the world has not entered into the first state cannot be introduced into the second after death, thus cannot be regenerated. (TCR n..571)

Reformation is ascribed to the understanding, and regeneration to the will…. The evils into which man is born are generated in the will of the natural man; and it has been shown that the will brings the understanding to favour itself by thinking in agreement with it. Therefore, in order that man may be regenerated, it is necessary that it be done by means of the understanding as a mediate cause; and this is done through information which the understanding receives, first from parents and masters, afterwards from the reading of the Word, from preaching, books, and conversation. The things that the understanding receives from these sources are called truths; it is the same therefore whether it be said that reformation is effected by means of the understanding, or that it is effected by means of the truths which the understanding receives. For truths teach man in whom and what he should believe, and what he should do, and therefore what he should purpose; for whatever any one does he does from his will according to his understanding. Since therefore the will itself of man is evil by birth, and since the understanding teaches what evil and good are, and he is able to purpose the one and not purpose the other, it follows that man is to be reformed by the understanding. And so long as any one sees and acknowledges in his mind that evil is evil and good is good, and thinks that good is to be chosen, so long he is in the state that is called reformation; but when he wills to shun evil and do good the state of regeneration begins. (ibid. n. 587)

But yet no one can be said to be reformed by the mere cognition of truths; for a man can apprehend them, and also talk about, teach, and preach them, from the faculty of elevating the understanding above the love of the will. But he is reformed who is in the affection of truth for the sake of truth; for this affection conjoins itself with the will, and if it goes on conjoins the will to the understanding, and then regeneration begins. (ibid. n. 589)

The Nature of Man before Regeneration, or as to what is properly his own (Proprium)

The Nature of Man before Regeneration, or as to what is properly his own (Proprium)

The proprium1 of man is all the evil and falsity that stream forth from the love of self and the world; whereby men are inclined to believe in themselves and not in the Lord and the Word, and to think that what they cannot comprehend sensually or by knowledge has no existence. Hence they become altogether evil and false, and therefore see all things perversely. Evil appears to them as good, and good as evil; falsity as truth, and truth as falsity; realities as nothing, and nothing as everything; hatred they call love, darkness light, death life, and vice versa. Such in the Word are called the lame and the blind. This then is the proprium of man, which in itself is infernal and accursed. (AC n. 210)

The proprium of man is in itself a thing merely dead, although it appears a reality, yea, everything to him. Whatever lives in him is from the Lord’s life; and if this were taken away, he would fall .dead like a stone. For man is only an organ of life, and the state of the life is according to the nature of the organ. Only the Lord has [an actual or living] proprium,. From His proprium He redeemed mankind, and from His proprium He saves them. The Lord’s proprium is life; and from His proprium the proprium of man, which in itself is dead, is vivified. (ibid. n. 149)

Man’s great Tendency to Evil

Few, if any, know that all men, how many soever they are, are withheld from evils by the Lord, and this with greater might than man can by any means conceive. For there is in every man a perpetual active impulse [conatus] to evil, both from the hereditary evil into which he is born, and from actual evil which he has acquired,—so strong, that unless he were withheld by the Lord he would every moment rush headlong towards the lowest hell. But so great is the Lord’s mercy that every moment, yea, every least part of a moment, he is lifted up and withheld from rushing thither. This is the case even with the good; but with a difference according to their life of charity and faith. Thus the Lord continually fights with man and for man against hell; although it does not so appear to man. That it is so it has been given me to know by much experience. (AC n. 2406)

Why Man is born in Ignorance

If man were imbued with no hereditary evil the rational would be born immediately from the marriage of the celestial things of the internal man with its spiritual things; and through the rational the knowing [faculty] would be born, so that man would have within him all the rational, and all the knowing [faculty], ‘at the moment of his coming into the world. For this would be according to the order of influx; as may be concluded from the fact that all animals whatsoever are born into all the knowing faculty which is necessary and conducive to their sustenance, their protection, their habitation, and their procreation; because their nature is in accordance with order. Why not then man, if order had not been destroyed in him? For he alone is born into, no knowledge! The cause of his being so barn is hereditary evil, derived from father and mother; in consequence of which all his faculties are in a contrary direction relative to what is true and good, and cannot be brought into forms corresponding to them by immediate influx of what is celestial and spiritual from the Lord. This is the reason why the rational of man must be formed in a way or a manner altogether different; namely, by knowledges and cognitions insinuated through the senses, thus flowing in by an external way, and therefore in inverted order. Man is thus miraculously rendered rational by the Lord. (AC n. 1902)




He who would be saved must confess his sins, and do the work of repentance.

To confess sins is to recognize evils; to see them within himself; to acknowledge them; to make himself guilty and condemn himself on account of them. This when it is done before God is the confession of sins.

To do the work of repentance is, after he has thus confessed his sins, and from an humble heart has made supplication for remission, to desist from them and lead a new life according to the precepts of faith.

He who only acknowledges generally that he is a sinner, and makes himself guilty of all evils, and does not explore himself, that is see his own sins, makes confession, but not the confession of repentance; for he afterwards lives as before.

He who lives the life of faith daily does the work of repentance; for he reflects upon the evils that are within him, and acknowledges them, guards himself against them, and supplicates the Lord for aid. For of himself man is continually lapsing; but is continually raised up by the Lord. Of himself he lapses when he thinks to will evil; and is raised up by the Lord when he resists evil, and therefore does not do it. Such is the state of all who are in good. But they who are in evil lapse continually, and also are continually elevated by the Lord; but it is lest they fall into the hell of all the basest evils, whither of themselves they tend with all their effort, and to restrain them to a milder hell.

The work of repentance which is done in a state of freedom avails, but that which is done in a state of compulsion is of no avail. A state of compulsion is a state of sickness, a state of dejection of mind on account of misfortunes; a state of imminent death; in a word, every state of fear which takes away the use of sound reason. He who is evil, and promises repentance and also does good in a state of compulsion, when he comes into a state of freedom returns into his former life of evil. It is different with a good man; these states to him are states of temptation, in which he conquers.

Repentance of the mouth and not of the life is not repentance; sins are not remitted by repentance of the mouth, but by repentance of the life. Sins are’ remitted to man continually by the Lord, for He is mercy itself; but the sins adhere to the man howsoever he supposes they are remitted, nor are they removed from him but by a life according to the precepts of faith. So far as he lives according to these precepts his sins are removed, and in so far as they are removed they are remitted. For man is withheld by the Lord from evil, and is held in good; and he can be withheld from evil in the other life in so far as he had resisted evil in the life of the body; and he can then be held in good in so far as he had done good from affection in the life of the body. From this it may be seen what the remission of sins is, and from whence it is. He who believes that sins are remitted in any other way is much deceived.

After a man has examined himself, and acknowledged his sins, and done the work of repentance, he must remain constant in good to the end of life. And if afterwards he relapses to the former life of evil and embraces it, he commits profanation; for then he conjoins evil with good; and therefore his latter state is worse than the first, according to the Lord’s words: “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, but doth not find; then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, and findeth it empty, and swept, and garnished for himself, then he goeth away and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there; and the last state of that man becomes worse than the first” (Matt. xii. 43-45). (AC 8387-8394)