How to Acquire Spiritual Faith, which is Faith ‘from’ Charity

Lastchurch - The Eternal Purpose

Selection from Apocalypse Explained ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

It is known in the world that there is a natural man and a spiritual man, as also that the natural man is worldly and the spiritual man heavenly; but still it is not known what spiritual faith is, and how it differs from natural faith.
(1) That every man has two minds, one natural and the other spiritual; and as it is the mind that wills and thinks, every man has also natural will and thought and spiritual will and thought. The natural mind wills and thinks like a man in the world, and the spiritual mind wills and thinks like an angel in heaven. From this it follows that as faith is in man, it, too, is natural or spiritual; and that natural faith is according to man’s will and thought in the world, and spiritual faith is according to his will and thought in heaven. It is said the will and thought, because all things from which man is a man have relation to these two, for from the will he acts, and from the thought he speaks. And as a man acts and speaks either from self or from God, so he wills and thinks either from self or from God. From this it is clear, in the first place, that there is natural faith and spiritual faith; and that natural faith apart from spiritual faith is to think such things as are in the Word from self, while natural faith from spiritual faith is to think such things as are in the Word from God; although this also seems to the man to be from himself.

(2) As every man has two minds, a natural and a spiritual, and the natural mind is opened and formed by such things as are in the world, while the spiritual mind is opened and formed by such things as are in heaven, and as the things that are in heaven are all spiritual, so a man’s spiritual mind must needs be opened and formed by such things as are in the Word, in which all things are spiritual because they are Divine. In the Word there are truths that are to be known and thought, and goods that must be willed and done; therefore it is by these goods and these truths that man’s spiritual mind is opened and formed. From this it follows, that unless the spiritual mind is opened and formed by truths and goods from the Word it remains closed; and when this is closed the natural mind only is opened and formed by such things as are in the world, from which man, indeed, derives a natural lumen, but such as has in it no wisdom from heaven. From this it is clear, in the second place, that faith is not faith so long as the natural mind only is opened, but that if the thought that a thing is so is called faith it is historical faith, which is nothing but knowledge from which the natural man thinks.

(3) That the spiritual mind may be opened and formed it must have a storehouse from which it may draw its supplies; since unless man has such a storehouse he is empty, and in emptiness there can be no Divine operation. This storehouse is in the natural man and it is its memory, in which everything knowable can be stored up and can be drawn forth from it. In this storehouse for the formation of the spiritual man there must be truths that are to be believed and goods that are to be done, both of them from the Word and from doctrine and preaching from the Word. These man must learn even from infancy. But all these things, however abundant they may be, although they are from the Word, are natural until the spiritual mind is opened; for they are mere knowledge. Thought from this storehouse is what is called faith by those who separate faith from good works in doctrine and in life.

(4) The spiritual mind is primarily opened by man’s abstaining from doing evils because they are contrary to the Divine commandments in the Word. If man abstains from evils from any other fear than this the spiritual mind is not opened. The following are the reasons why this is what opens the spiritual mind: First, that the evils with man must be removed before communication and conjunction with heaven can be granted him; since evils, which are all in the natural man, keep heaven closed, and yet heaven must be opened, for otherwise man remains natural. The second reason is that the Word is from the Lord, and consequently the Lord is in the Word, even so that He is the Word; for the Word is Divine truth all of which is from the Lord. From this it follows that he who abstains from doing evils because they are contrary to the Divine commandments in the Word abstains from them from the Lord. The third reason is, that as far as evils are removed so far goods enter. That this is so can be seen by man from natural lumen alone, for when lasciviousness is removed chastity enters; when intemperance is removed temperance enters; when deceit is removed sincerity enters; when hatred and the delight of revenge are removed love and the delight of love and friendship enter; and so in other cases; and this for the reason that the Lord enters, and heaven with Him, so far as man from the Word abstains from doing evils, since he then abstains from them from the Lord.

(5) But this shall be illustrated by examples. Take for illustration the four commandments of the Decalogue, “thou shalt not commit adultery,” “thou shalt not steal,” “thou shalt not kill,” “thou shalt not bear false witness.” These commandments are Divine, since they are in the Word. When anyone shuns and averts himself from adultery because of the fear that it is against the Lord, against heaven, and against the spiritual life, to be in accord with which is eternal felicity, he loves chastity and loves his consort, because true conjugial love is chastity itself. When anyone shuns and averts himself from theft because of a like fear as from adultery, he loves sincerity, and loves the good of the neighbor as his own good. When anyone shuns and averts himself from murders or from deadly hatred from a like fear he loves the neighbor and is in charity. When anyone shuns and averts himself from false testimony because of a like fear he loves justice and loves truthfulness, and this from the Lord, because from the Word; consequently when after death he becomes a spirit he is like an angel of heaven, and therefore becomes an angel of heaven. But when one does not shun adultery from such a holy fear, but from a fear for his reputation, and thus of the loss of honor and gain, or from a fear of the law, or of disease, or because of weakness, he is still unchaste, since he merely fears the world and the loss of his prosperity in the world, and does not fear the Lord, and thus does not fear the loss of heaven and of eternal life. In like manner when anyone abstains from thefts, from murders or deadly hatreds, and from false testimonies, from natural fear only and not from spiritual fear, he abstains from these from self and not from the Lord; and he who does this from self still remains in them; and no one can be withdrawn from these except by the Lord. From this it can be seen that the spiritual mind with man is opened by this, that from the Word he abstains from doing evils; and that it is opened in the same degree in which he abstains from them by shunning and turning away from them.

(Apocalypse Explained 790:3-7)
April 14, 2017

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