Social Justice is not Spiritual or Eternal Justice

It is honorable to care for our neighbors—even on a global scale. It requires a good heart to be concerned for others. But is ensuring equal rights the same thing as everyone being assured of a roof over their heads, healthcare, and big screen TVs? Is our idea of equal rights the same thing that God thinks it is?

I agree that we should all pitch in to banish human suffering to make each others’ lives better and happier, but it seems that such moral and charitable efforts should not be focused solely on that which can rust, be stolen or eaten by moths.

But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. (Matthew 6:19)

We do not live forever on this earth, in spite of modern medical advances, improved distribution of food or increased comfort and convenience from modern innovation. These worldly things are important in God’s creation—only as long as they are serviceable towards our living a heaven-bound life.

A government can legislate a level playing field for all its citizens yet not offer any help towards a person’s eternal wellbeing and soul. So in terms of truly living an “upwardly mobile” life, we can have all the creature comforts of this earth and enjoy great physical health but still be counted among the disabled, sick, homeless, oppressed, poor, starved and miserable!

Unlike worldly social justice, heaven is not an entitlement program. According to theologian Emanuel Swedenborg, the concept of helping the downtrodden and less fortunate was looked at quite differently in more ancient civilizations. Instead, they understood whether a person was less fortunate or not from their spiritual situation. Here is a quote from Swedenborg:

The Ancient Church distinguished into classes the neighbor or neighbors toward whom they were to perform works of charity; and some they called “maimed,” some “lame,” some “blind,” and some “deaf,” meaning those who were spiritually so. Some also they called the “hungry,” the “thirsty,” “strangers,” the “naked,” the “sick,” the “captives;” and some “widows,” “orphans,” the “needy”, the “poor,” and the “miserable;” by whom they meant no other than those who were such as to truth and good, and who were to be suitably instructed, led on their way, and thus provided for as to their souls. (Arcana Coelestia, Vol. 6, n. 4302)

In fact, in order to get individuals re-focused towards spiritual matters and eternal life, God often will make use of misfortune, sorrow and human suffering ( Arcana Coelestia, Vol. 1, n. 8  )

Social justice is a hot topic right now. Tell me what you think.

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The Word Made Flesh

The Word Made Flesh
A Sermon by Rev. Eric H. Carswell

Image result for the word made flesh

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we
beheld His glory” (John 1:14).

The Lord loves each of us and wants us to be as happy as we
can be to eternity. He loves us. He has loved every human being who
has lived in the past. He loves all the people who have yet to be born.
Love that is genuine has three qualities. We read in the Writings of
the New Church: “It is the essence of Love to love others outside of
one self, to desire to be one with them, and to render them blessed
from oneself.” (True Christian Religion 43)

God has this love in perfection at the very core of who He is. He
loves us so much that we’re told that no matter what we have done,
He cannot even look at us with a stern countenance. (True Christian
Religion 56e) There is a part of human nature that cannot possibly
believe that this is the case. Since it isn’t the way we react to people
when they’ve been destructive or just frustrating, it doesn’t make
sense to us that the Lord would have such a different reaction. The
only way we can easily imagine this perspective, before we’ve grown
spiritually to feel something of it ourselves, is to picture God as being
like a foolishly doting parent who will overlook or not recognize any
fault, forgive any transgression, and give in eventually to any request.
Such a parent is viewed by a child as a pushover and the child will
hold him or her in very low respect. A child who is unfortunate to grow
up with parenting like this will face a huge number of unnecessary
problems as he or she gets older. The child will tend to become adept
at being manipulative. He or she will tend to have trouble recognizing
that one’s own needs and wants need to be balanced or tempered by
those of people around oneself. If the child runs into an adult who
does present obstacles or boundaries to the child’s wishes, that child
can be furious or hurt by this intrusion. To the extent that the child
continues to believe that the foolish parent’s responses are the ways
things are supposed to be, he or she will be a danger to self and
others.

The Lord loves us perfectly and this love is expressed through
perfect wisdom. Wisdom is what gives form to love. A woman can
have a deep desire to bake a delicious meal for a friend, but if she is
too ignorant, too inexperienced in the kitchen she may instead
produce food that is nearly inedible. Desire or love by itself is blind.
The woman needs to know how to cook and what to cook if she
wants to achieve her goal of a delicious meal for a friend. When she
succeeds, at the core of her efforts will be her love, and this will be
guided each step of the way by an understanding of how to reach the
goal she seeks.

The opening sentences of the Gospel of John describe the
relationship of love and wisdom within the Lord, the infinite God from
eternity, the creator and sustainer of all life. These sentences use the
term “the Word.” It is a translation of the original Greek, logos. It
means the word by which inner thought is expressed or the inner
thought and reason itself. The Logos spoken of in the Gospel of John
is the infinite wisdom that gives form to the Divine Love. It is both one
with this love and can be thought of as a separate quality. All of
creation, whose goal is an expression of Divine love was guided by
this Logos or perfect wisdom.

So we read in the opening of this gospel: “In the beginning was
the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He
was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him,
and without Him nothing was made that was made.” (John1:1-3)
The goal of creation was and is the fulfillment of the Divine love.
The first quality of which is that true love must have another or others
outside of self to love. Concerning this quality of the Lord we are told:
The first essential, which is to love others outside of one’s self, is
recognized in God’s love for the whole human race; and for its sake
God loves all things that He has created because they are means; for
when the end is loved the means also are loved. All human beings
and things in the universe are outside of God, because they are finite
and God is infinite. The love of God goes forth and extends not only
to good people and good things, but also to evil people and evil
things; consequently not only to the people and things in heaven but
also in hell, thus not only to Michael and Gabriel but also to the devil
and satan; for God is everywhere, and is from eternity to eternity the
same. He says also that “He makes the sun to rise on the good and
on the evil, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew
5:45)

But the reason why evil people continue to be evil, and evil
things continue to be evil, lies in the subjects and objects themselves,
in that they do not receive the love of God as it is, and as it is in
mostly in them, but as they themselves are; in the same way as
thorns and thistles receive the heat of the sun and the rain of heaven.
(True Christian Religion 43)

Each of us is a focus of the Lord’s love. He has created us with
the goal and intention of serving us and bringing us joy. When we
think of the billions of human beings alive today in this world, it is
almost impossible to envision that the Lord views each of us as
individuals. We look at a forest of trees and can say I love every one
of the leaves in this forest, but we are speaking abstractly. But the
Lord is very different. He is our loving heavenly Father. Just as an
attentive parent sees each of his children as wonderfully unique
individuals, beloved each in their own right, needing a special kind of
parenting and guidance, experiencing his or her own joys and
challenges, so the Lord loves each of us as individuals. In fact, He
knows infinitely more about each of us than the most attentive parent
could ever know about a child. It is His joy to share in our lives.
But just having created “others” in existence isn’t enough to
fulfill true Love. The second quality of this love is described with these
words:

The second essential of the love of God, which is a desire to be
one with others, is recognized in His conjunction with the angelic
heaven, with the church on earth, with every one there, and with
every thing good and true that enters into and constitutes each
person and the church. Moreover, love viewed in itself is nothing but
an endeavor towards conjunction; therefore that this aim of the
essence of love might be realized each and every human being was
created by God into His own image and likeness, with which a
conjunction is possible. That the Divine love continually seeks
conjunction is evident from the Lord’s own words: That He wishes
them to be one, He in them and they in Him, and that the love of God
might be in them. (John 17:21-23, 26 and True Christian Religion 43)

“Love viewed in itself is nothing but an endeavor towards
conjunction.” What do these words mean? Specifically, what does
“conjunction” mean? It is a desire to share in common goals and
common understandings. It is a desire for a deep relationship of trust
and mutual goodwill. Conjunction or a deep relationship of love is
impossible without freedom to choose that relationship. Imagine the
child of very wealthy parents who feels lonely and is told, “Don’t
worry, we’ll pay someone to be your friend.” Or consider the boss
who suspects that the only reason an employee is so solicitous of his
ideas and welfare is the fear of being fired if they expressed their real
opinion. What kind of relationships would these be? Would they be
anything more than very superficial? Would there be anything more
than a temporary “oneness of purpose” so long as there was
payment or continuing fear of consequences for not going along.
There could be no real love or real conjunction in these cases. So
likewise, it is essential to the Lord that we be free to choose to love
what He loves, to accept His wisdom, or to reject them both. We can
choose to be with Him or choose to distance ourselves from His life.
But for us to choose a relationship of love with the Lord we
have to know of Him, His goals, and His thoughts. Otherwise we
would not know what we were choosing and not choosing. For this
reason, the Lord has made sure that everyone has the essential
knowledge of His qualities. Concerning this we read the following
from the book the Divine Providence, “Everyone acknowledges God
and is conjoined to Him according to the good of his life. All can have
a knowledge of God who know anything from religion….The general
principles of all religions by which everyone can be saved are: To
acknowledge God; and to refrain from doing evil because it is against
God. These are the two things which make religion to be religion. If
one of them is wanting it cannot be called religion, since to
acknowledge God and to do evil is a contradiction; so also is to do
good and yet not acknowledge God, for one is not possible without
the other. It has been provided by the Lord that almost everywhere
there should be some form of religion, and that in every religion there
should be these two principles; and it has also been provided by the
Lord that everyone who acknowledges God and refrains from doing
evil because it is against God should have a place in heaven.” (Divine
Providence 326:6,9)

The Lord has worked to make sure that the essential
knowledge for salvation has been available to all people. But He also
wants more than just the essential. He has provided that there be
specific revelation to form a church of human beings that could know
Him more clearly and worship Him as He truly is. For this reason the
Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Writings of the New
Church have been revealed. By itself written revelation describing
what we are to do would not have been enough. It was essential that
the Lord, the infinite God and Creator, be born into this world and
make His essential Humanity visible and knowable to us. Mere words
would not have done it. And so we read in the Gospel of John: “And
the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His
glory.” (John 1:14) The Advent of the otherwise invisible and
unknowable Infinite Creator into this world is the event that we will
celebrate on December 25th. Christmas is the celebration of the
Lord’s birth into this world as a human being who we can see in our
mind’s eye. We can read of how He taught, healed, lived, allowed
Himself to be put to death, and rose as our Savior and Redeemer.
Without this clear example we would not be able to freely follow Him
and freely love Him. He would be too distant and unknowable to us.
The final fulfillment of true love is shown in its third quality.
The third essential of the love of God, which is to render others
blessed from Himself, is recognized in eternal life, which Is the
endless blessedness, happiness, and joy that God gives to those who
receive into themselves His love. For as God is love itself, so is He
blessedness itself; for all love breathes forth delight from itself, and
the Divine love breathes forth blessedness itself, happiness, and joy
to eternity. Thus God from Himself renders the angels blessed, and
people after death; and this He does by conjunction with them. (True
Christian Religion 43)

If we are to receive these blessings of happiness and peace,
we must be joined in a deep relationship of love with the Lord. We
must freely choose to turn to His Word, learn what it teaches, and
consciously compel ourselves to think, speak, and live better than we
naturally incline to. We must turn to the Lord in prayer asking for His
help and guidance. Gradually He will help us to recognize His love
and His order more and more clearly. Gradually He will help us to
think and will more and more as He does. Gradually He will bring us
into a oneness with Him. If we cooperate with the Lord He will conjoin
us in heart, mind, and life with Him and from this conjunction comes
true happiness for us and for Him. This is the most wonderful gift
anyone could ever receive.
Amen.
Lessons: Isaiah 40:9-11, John 1:1-5, 14, 13:15, True Christian
Religion 339:1-2

https://newchurch.org/

DAILY INSPIRATION

“Loving the truth is intending and doing it.”

Heaven and Hell 15 

John Chapter 1

JOHN 1      Other translations  –  next  –  meaning  –  John  –  BM Home  –  Full Page

Chapter 1 THE INTERNAL SENSE.
  1. IN the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with god, and god was the Word.
  2. The same was in the beginning with god,
THAT the lord, as to his Divine Human [principle], which is divine truth, existed from eternity, in undivided union with the divine good, which is jehovah, verses 1, 2.
  1. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made.
That by divine truth from the lord was effected the all of creation, both natural and spiritual, thus the production of the all of outward nature, and likewise the regeneration of man, and the establishment of the church, vs 3.
  1. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
That divine truth is always in union with divine love, and by virtue of that union is the source of all wisdom, intelligence, and rationality, amongst mankind, vs 4.
  1. And the light shines in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.
But that mankind had so immersed themselves in external and natural things, and thus in false principles, that they no longer acknowledged divine truth, vs 5.
  1. There was a man sent from god, whose name was John.
  2. He came for a witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him.
  3. He was not the light, but that he might bear witness of the light.
  4. [That] was the true light, which enlightens every man that comes into the world.
That divine truth has its appointed representatives here on earth, amongst those who are principled in charity and faith, whose office it is to testify concerning the lord’s Divine Humanity, and thus to lead mankind to acknowledge and receive it, as the only source of all wisdom, intelligence, and rationality, vs 6, 7, 8, 9.
  1. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
  2. He came to his own, and his own received him not.
  3. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of god, to them who believe in his name.
  4. Who were born, not of bloods, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of god.
That the lord, by his divine truth, or the Word, was present with the Jewish church, but that he was not in general known and acknowledged, yet that all, who did know and acknowledge him, were made regenerate, and thus delivered from the guilt of doing violence to charity, and of profaning truth, being cleansed from all the principles of evil and error, vs 10, 11, 12, 13.
  1. And the Word was made flesh, and tabernacled amongst us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the father, full of grace and truth.
That the lord, by assuming the human nature, and thus becoming a man, made himself divine truth in ultimates, as he had before been divine truth in first principles, and thus gained fuller access to man, by imparting a fuller measure of his divine love and wisdom, vs 14.
  1. John bare witness of him, and cried, saying, This was he of whom I said, He that comes after me, was before me, because he was prior to me.
  2. And of his fullness have we all received, and grace for grace.
  3. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by jesus christ.
Therefore all, who are principled in charity and faith, acknowledge from the heart, that the lord in his Divine Humanity is the eternal god, and that all good and truth are from him, and that he came into the world to open those interior things of his Word, for the benefit of mankind, vs 15, 16, 17.
  1. No one has seen god at any time; the Only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the father, he has brought him forth to view.
They acknowledge also, that no right apprehension can be had of the invisible jehovah, but by or through the visible humanity, which he assumed and glorified for that purpose, vs 18.
  1. And this is the witness of John, when the Jews sent from Jerusalem priests and Levites to ask him, Who are you?
  2. And he confessed, and denied not, and confessed, I am not the christ.
  3. And they asked him, What then? Art you Elias? And he says, I am not. Art you the Prophet? And he answered, No.
  4. Then they said to him, Who are you? that we may give an answer to them who went us: What say you of yourself?
  5. He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the lord, as said Esaias the prophet.
Thus they testify concerning themselves, to those of the perverted church who are inquisitive about them, that they possess no truth or good of themselves, but only from the Word, and that from the Word all in the vastated church are admonished to prepare themselves to receive the lord in his divine humanity, vs 19, 20, 21, 22, 23.
  1. And they who were sent were of the Pharisees.
  2. And they asked him, and said to him, Why baptizest you then, if you are not the christ, nor Elias, nor the Prophet?
  3. John answered them, saying, I baptize with water, but there stands one in the midst of you, whom you know not.
They testify further, that they can teach only external truth, but that the truth itself is the lord as to his Divine Humanity, who is yet unacknowledged, although he is the very central life of all truths, vs 24, 25, 26.
  1. He it is who, coming after me, was before me, whose shoe’s latchet I am not worthy to unloose.
And has thus pre-eminence over all, since the lowest order of internal truth is above the highest of what is external, vs 27.
  1. These things were done in Bethabara, beyond Jordan, where John was baptizing.
  2. On the morrow John sees jesus coming to him, and says, Behold the Lamb of god who takes away the sin of the world!
Such is the testimony of external truth, derived from the letter of the Word, which testimony presently conducts to a view of internal truth as it is in connection with the lord’s Divine Humanity, by virtue of which internal truth confession is made that the lord in his Divine Humanity is the purest innocence, and that human disorder can never be removed, only so far as that innocence is implanted in human minds, vs 28, 29.
  1. He it is of whom I said, After me comes a man, who was before me; for he was prior to me.
  2. And I knew him not, but that he should be made manifest to Israel, on which account I am come baptizing with water.
Confession is further made from internal truth, that the lord, in his Divine Humanity, is the eternal god, and that all good and truth are from him, and that he is to be made known to the church by the teaching of external truth from the Word, vs 30, 31.
  1. And John bare witness, saying, I saw the Spirit descending as a dove from heaven, and it abode upon him.
  2. And I knew him not, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, On whom you shall see the Spirit descending, and abiding upon him, he it is who baptizeth with the Holy Spirit.
  3. And I saw and bare witness, that he is the Son of god.
Which truth testifies, that all the good and truth of faith, thus all purification and regeneration, are from the Divine Humanity of the lord, and that consequently all internal truth is from the same source, vs 32, 33, 34, 35.
  1. Again on the morrow, John stood and two of his disciples.
  2. And looking upon jesus as he walked, he says, Behold the Lamb of god !
  3. And the two disciples heard him speaking, and they followed jesus.
That they who are principled in charity, and in the faith of charity, have their spiritual sight opened to behold and to confess the lord in his Divine Humanity, whom therefore they immediately acknowledge and obey as the only god, vs 35, 36, 37.
    1. But jesus turning, and seeing them following, says to them, What seek you? They said to him, Rabbi, (which is to say, being interpreted, Master) where abide you ?

  1. He says to them, Come and see. They came and saw where he abode, and remained with him that day, and it was about the tenth hour.
And being led by an internal dictate in their own minds to explore and examine the end of all truth, or knowledge, they are led further to inquire after the good of love and charity, to which all truth and knowledge point, and thus attain conjunction with the lord in that good, vs 38, 39.
  1. Andrew the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two disciples who heard from John, and followed him.
  2. He first finds his own brother Simon, and says to him, We have found the Messiah,—which is, being interpreted, the christ.
  3. And he led him to jesus, and jesus looking on him, said, You are Simon the son of Jona: You shall be called Cephas, which is, bring interpreted, a stone, (or Peter.)
That they who are principled in the good of charity instruct those who are principled in the good of faith, concerning the lord in his Divine Humanity, and thus conduct them to the incarnate god, by whom they are taught that they, who are principled in truth derived from good, ought to attach themselves to divine truth, or to truth proceeding from, and in conjunction with, the lord’s Divine Humanity, vs 40, 41, 42.
  1. On the morrow, jesus willed to go forth into Galilee, and he finds Philip, and says to him, Follow me.
  2. But Philip was from Bethsaida, of the city of Andrewand Peter.
  3. Philip finds Nathaniel, and says to him, We have found him of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write, jesus the son of Joseph of Nazareth.
That they of the church, who are principled in intelligence, are next instructed to acknowledge all intelligence to be derived from the lord’s Divine Humanity, and that when they are so instructed, they again instruct those who are principled in charity and its faith, that the lord is manifested in his Divine Humanity, as was predicted, vs 43, 44, 45.
  1. And Nathaniel said to him, Can any good thing be from Nazareth? Philip says to him, Come and see.
  2. jesus saw Nathaniel coming to him, and says of him, Behold, truly an Israelite, in whom is no guile.
  3. Nathaniel says to him, Whence know you me? jesus answered, and said to him, Before that Philip called you, when you were under the fig-tree, I saw you.
  4. Nathaniel answered, and says to him, Rabbi, You are the Son of god, you are the King of Israel!
Which instruction is received with doubt, until conviction is worked of the divine wisdom of that humanity, by the distinction which it makes between spiritual good and natural good, and by setting the former above the latter, vs 46, 47, 48, 49.
  1. jesus answered, and said to him, Because I said to you, I saw you under the fig-tree, believe you? You shall see greater things than these.
  2. And he says to him, Verily, verily, I say to you, now on you shall see heaven open, and the angels of god ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.
That this distinction, however, does not produce a conviction equal to that which arises in the course of regeneration, when the internal man is opened to see the several orders of truth in their connection with their divine source, by virtue of which man’s ascent to god is first effected, and afterwards the descent of god to man, vs 50, 51.

http://www.biblemeanings.info/Bible/john.html

THE

GOSPEL ACCORDING TO JOHN,

Translated from the Greek,

AND

ILLUSTRATED BY EXTRACTS

FROM THE

THEOLOGICAL WRITINGS OF THAT EMINENT SERVANT OF THE LORD,

THE

HON. EMANUEL SWEDENBORG,

TOGETHER WITH

NOTES & OBSERVATIONS OF THE TRANSLATOR ANNEXED TO EACH CHAPTER.

BY THE REV. J. CLOWES, M.A.

RECTOR OF ST. JOHN’S CHURCH, MANCHESTER, AND FELLOW OF TRINITY COLLEGE, CAMBRIDGE.

” Whoso readeth, let him understand.”—Matt. xxiv. 15.

 

Second Edition.

MANCHESTER:
PRINTED BY HENRY SMITH, ST, ANN’S-SQUARE,

AND SOLD BY

  1. HODSON. 112, FLEET-STREET, LONDON; AND BY E. BAYLIS,
    ST. ANN’S-STREET, MANCHESTER.

MDCCCXXXVIII.

First Principles in expressions

Physicists seek to discover first principles of the manifest universe. Why? These principles, if identified, would reflect the fundamental nature of reality and represent the origins of natural law and process.

Relativity theory takes us to an essential singularity where matter is crushed into a point of infinite curvature and gravity—which produced the Big Bang.

Quantum theory takes us to a state where the universe exists as a non-local foamy cloud of mere “tendencies to exist.”

String theory takes us back to a multidimensional state where nothing exists but energetic strings, membranes and blobs (of something or other).

Religion teaches that fundamental reality takes us to an Infinite God.

Scientist/theologian Emanuel Swedenborg supported the latter, but applied scientific reasoning to his theistic position. Like some of today’s cutting edge thinkers he anticipated that the concept of causality could have its basis in a reality freed-up from involvement with time and locality. Swedenborg’s model of reality embraced a dynamical nexus between Divine (God’s) order and temporal order. In this model, various states of God’s love flow into (descend) into boundary conditions with increased constraints until finally finding expression in the spatio-temporal arena.

This means that the physical universe and its laws must be expressions or analogs of spiritual laws and God’s essential character. Swedenborg called these causal links between God and physical nature the science of correspondences.

To give you a simple example of this top-down causal relationship between spiritual (non-local) and physical terms, we can look at our mundane everyday expressions and language. The word “seeing” has its mental analog in the word “understanding” which in turn has its Divine analog in God’s Infinite “foresight” and “providence.” In each case the expression is self-similar (corresponds) but becomes less local and physical and more universal as it moves up the hierarchical ladder. This self-similarity allows linkage for God to act in the world. In a top-down causal scheme of reality, all God’s qualities represent first principles—and that which is responsible for the patterning principles and dynamics of the whole multi-tiered system that follows.

Heaven’s angels live in a non-physical realm and are cognitive of the first principles that are contained within all human expression. Every idea or concept that comes to an angelic being’s perception is immediately transformed into its “higher” equivalent or corresponding mental and spiritual quality.

The significance of this is that angels (and specially enlightened humans) perceive deeper levels of meaning within the narratives of Holy Scripture. According to Swedenborg, not only were angels able to apply new degrees of freedom to language but from this loftier viewpoint they could also identify patterns of lawful process and order within the sacred scaffolding and architecture of Scripture. In other words, God’s Holy Word could be studied as a multidimensional and scientific document with the potential of leading physicists to formulate a causal theory from a non-physical (pre-geometric but holy) matrix.

This is a game-changer!

In order to explain these ideas in greater detail, I have just completed a book entitled Proving God. It is now available on Amazon.

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Man is Led and Taught By the Lord in Externals to All Appearance As Of Himself

Lastchurch - The Eternal PurposeSelection from Divine Providence ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

In externals man is led and taught by the Lord in all appearance as if by himself. This takes place in man’s externals, but not in internals.

How the Lord leads and teaches man in his internals no one knows, as no one knows how the soul operates to cause the eye to see, the ear to hear, the tongue and mouth to speak, the heart to move the blood, the lungs to breathe, the stomach to digest, the liver and pancreas to assort, the kidneys to secrete, and countless other things. These things do not come to man’s perception and sensation.

The same is true of what is done by the Lord in the interior substances and forms of the mind, which are infinitely more numerous; the Lord’s operations in these are not manifest to man. But the effects, which are numerous, are manifest, as well as some of the causes producing the effects. These are the externals wherein man and the Lord are together. And because externals make one with internals (for they cohere in one series), the Lord can arrange things in internals only in accordance with the disposition that is effected by means of man in the externals.

Every one knows that man thinks, wills, speaks, and acts to all appearance as if from himself; and every one can see that without this appearance man would have no will or understanding, thus no affection or thought, also no reception of any good and truth from the Lord. This being so, it follows that without this appearance there would be no knowledge of God, no charity or faith, and consequently no reformation or regeneration, and therefore no salvation. From all this it is clear that this appearance is given to man by the Lord for the sake of all these uses, and chiefly that man may have the ability to receive and to reciprocate, whereby the Lord may be conjoined with him and he with the Lord, and that through this conjunction man may live forever. This is the appearance here meant.

(Divine Providence 174)
June 23, 2017

The First And Second Death

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<< THE FIRST AND SECOND DEATH. >>

“And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of those that
kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.
But I will forewarn you who in ye shall fear : Fear him,
which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell ; yea, I
say unto you. Fear him.”
—Luke xii. 4, 5.

THERE is no subject, it would seem, which would interest man so much as that great change in his existence which is called death, and yet there are few questions concerning which so little is known and so many errors prevail. The most common opinions concerning it are that it is a mystery, a terror and an agony ; that it was sent upon man as a punishment for disobedience, and that it is a standing monument of the Divine displeasure. Consequently, men almost universally shrink from it with horror, and to many it is the one dark cloud and terrible dread of life. Poets and orators and Christian teachers hold it up as the most awful calamity, and it is the severest punishment known to human laws. But much of the mystery and terror that invests it is due to entire misconceptions of its origin and nature, and these misconceptions seem to have their origin in confounding the two deaths and attributing to one the qualities that belong to the other. Men have attributed to natural death the pains and sufferings that belong only to spiritual death. Indeed, most men overlook the second death entirely, and, if they think of the subject at all, think only of natural death.

A careful examination of the Sacred Scriptures and enlightened reason will show us that natural death, by which we understand the separation of the soul from the body, was not sent upon man as a punishment for sin, but is an orderly step in the progress of his life. It was not this- death that came into the world by sin. If man had never sinned he would still have cast off his material body and passed on into the spiritual world.

We need go no further than the first intimations of death which we have in the Sacred Scriptures to learn that it was not natural death that came by sin. The warning given to Adam and Eve was, ‘* In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” (Gen. ii. 17.) But they did not die a natural death in that day. Either that was not the death referred to, therefore, or the warning was a false one. And this we cannot for a moment suppose. So when Moses said to the Israelites,” See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil” (Deut. xxx. 15), he cannot mean natural life and death, for if they had obeyed every one of his commandments they would not have lived forever in this world. The Lord also commanded Jeremiah to say to the Jews, “Thus saith the Lord: Behold, I set before you the way of life, and the way of death.” (Jer. xxi. 8.) In the Psalms also it is said, “Thou hast delivered my soul from death.” (Ps. Ivi. 13 ; cxvi. 8.)

The apostles also often speak of death in this sense. But what our Lord said to Martha is conclusive upon the subject, “Whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.” (John xi. 26.) By this He could not mean natural death, for multitudes which no man can number have lived and believed in Him, and their bodies have returned to the dust from which they were formed. When the apostle says that death came by sin, and that death has passed upon all, for that all have sinned (Rom. v. 12), he evidently means the death of the soul. There is no evidence in the Bible that natural death was caused by sin. It is a mere human inference. It is no doubt true that much of the sickness and pain that generally precedes and attends our departure from this world is more or less remotely caused by sin, because evil desires and false principles lead to the violation of physical laws, to intemperance in eating and drinking, to anxieties and excitements and disorders of life. The average duration of human life in this world has without doubt also been much shortened by evil, for we know that the average duration of life increases as civilization advances and men become more observant of the laws of life. But there is no evidence that man would live forever in this world even if he lived a perfect life. Immortality in this world is certainly not taught in the Bible, and there are many rational considerations and inferences from the Sacred Scriptures that show conclusively that it is not according to the purposes of the Divine wisdom that man should live here forever.

So far as our knowledge extends, the existence of every living thing organized of matter is limited. It has laws of birth, growth, and decay. There is no exception. Every plant in the vegetable kingdom, for example, attains its growth and does not pass beyond a certain limit. It may remain stationary there for years, for centuries, and yet the moment it stands still it begins to decline, and eventually it will fall and perish. The same is true of the animal kingdom. There are no exceptions to the law. Now, it is worthy of notice that animals and vegetables have not sinned ; they live according to the true order of their creation. Man, as to his physical nature, is an animal, and the laws of his generation, development, and life are the same. There have been, and no doubt are still, multitudes of human beings who have lived in perfect health. And yet they grow old and die. Nor do they die of any disease ; when the body has done its work it shrivels and falls from the soul as the husk from the corn.

But again, so far as human observation extends, the development of organized beings and things proceeds by distinct steps, the prior acting as an instrument for the creation of the succeeding, and being left behind it in the ascent. In the vegetable kingdom, when the germ expands, the outer covering which contained it is thrown aside ; the blossom fades and perishes when the fruit is born and begins a distinct existence ; and again, the husk and chaff and rough covering which have served as a body and vessel and protection for the fine, fluent substances of the seed during its formation wither and die when the seed is ripe. The same order and method prevails in the animal kingdom. This is beautifully exemplified in insects. There are three distinct steps in insect life. A caterpillar is hatched from an egg then it becomes a chrysalis enclosed in a hard covering, and apparently almost lifeless, and then a moth or butterfly. During these metamorphoses, or changes of form, it never goes back and resumes its former state. The moth does not become a worm and the worm an egg. But it continually advances until it completes the cycle of its life, preparation being made in each state for the succeeding one.

Have these analogies and this method of the Divine wisdom, which is universal so far as we know, no significance ? So far as our observation extends, we find creation and life proceeding according to the same order and method in man as in all other creatures. Can we suppose that the order is reversed the moment we reach the limits of our own observation ? Man is a spiritual being. He has a spiritual body, for the apostle Paul declares, ” There is a spiritual body. ” Man has a nature of a degree distinctly higher than the animal, than any other created being. And is it not according to all the analogies of the Divine method of creating that man should attain his highest state by successive changes of state? continually throwing off and leaving behind those materials and instruments which have been used as means for its attainment ? If there is any force in reasoning from universal methods, I do not see how we can come to any other conclusion than that natural death is a step forward in life, if man has a distinctly spiritual nature, a spiritual body.

But if the laws of analogy did not point with sure indications to the great truth that natural death is only a step forward in life, we might infer it from the infinite nature of the Divine love and wisdom. Suppose it had been the original intention of the Creator that man should live immortal upon this earth, there must soon have been a limit to the number of human beings He could create ; for while man lives upon the earth clothed in a material body he must be fed with products from the earth, and even in the most perfect order of things the limits of its power to sustain human life must be reached ; and when that hmit is reached the whole order and nature of man must be changed. Society must to a great extent become stationary. No new elements could be constantly added to it ; no new varieties of character be constantly adding to its perfection. Conceive for a moment the earth to be crowded with a population to the full extent of its capacity to support life, and the same beings to dwell upon it forever, with no infancy, no childhood, no old age, nothing to call forth our sympathy, nothing to awaken fresh and lively hopes,—would not such a state be more like the dead level of a stagnant pool than the running stream of an ever-varying life? Would not some of the elements which seem most important and even essential to human happiness be wanting ? But suppose the earth to be filled with happy people. Could the comparatively few human beings the earth could sustain satisfy the infinite love of the Lord?

There is something of the infinite even in the material world. We see it in the variety which everywhere exists ; no two things or beings are alike. We see it in the tendency of every plant and animal to reproduction and multiplication. Can we for a moment suppose that man, who stands at the head of the Creator’s works, should be the only exception to this law? that while plants and animals are produced in endless variety in a circle of successive generations, man, who was created in the image and likeness of God, should soon reach the limit of his numbers, and beyond that limit could know no increase through the coming eternity ? How much grander the idea, and worthier of infinite love, and more in accordance with all we know of the Divine methods, that an endless succession of generations should be born upon the earth and transplanted into the heavens ! Thus human life upon the earth, instead of being the completed work of the Lord, is only its beginning. Earth is the nursery and seminary of heaven, where human souls capable of receiving the Divine life and reciprocating the Divine love, capable of loving and being loved, can be born with endless variety and number.

But again, if man was born to live forever in this world, what becomes of all the promised blessedness of heaven ? Are we not taught in the Sacred Scriptures, both by positive precept and inevitable inference, that heaven is a better and more perfect world than this? What becomes of the happiness which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, nor heart conceived? Is heaven, the abode of the angels and the Lord, a mere refuge from this world? and does its principal excellence consist in the contrasts it furnishes to this life ? Would there have been no mansions in heaven for us if there had been no sin upon earth ? Would there have been no songs of joy there by human voices if there had been no wail of sorrow here ? Even upon the supposition that the angels are a race of beings distinct from men, would heaven be as perfect, would the angels be as happy in their bright abodes, without a constant accession of human beings from the earth to instruct and love ? If you insist that man was born to be immortal in this world, but that the happiness of heaven exceeds anything possible to this life, as the prevalent theology does, you admit that man has been a gainer by sin ; he has escaped from a world of material limitations and imperfections and gained entrance to one where all the conditions of his existence are perfect, where he can associate with angelic beings and enjoy a fulness and perfection of happiness impossible to this. If you admit that heaven would not be as perfect without a continual influx of life from this world, you admit that both angels and men are gainers by natural death.

Whatever view we take of the subject, then, I see but one escape from the inevitable conclusion that natural death has in itself no real terrors ; that it is an orderly step in man’s successive creation, and a part of the great original purpose of the Divine love and wisdom, according to which there is to be an endless succession of human souls created upon the earth, who, after passing through various stages here, are to find their final home in the spiritual world. I say I see but one escape from this conclusion, and that is in the admission that the spiritual world is not so real and perfect a world as this. And that admission involves so many and great absurdities, such an entire inversion of all the methods of the Divine order ; is so contrary to the whole tenor of the Word and subversive of the precious promises and immortal hopes it holds out to us, that it seems Impossible that any rational mind could entertain it for a moment. If the spiritual world is not the vain dream of an idle fancy ; if the Lord and the angels and the promises of heavenly blessedness are not fallacious hopes, then that change in our organization, that disrobing of the spirit by its resurrection from the material body, that escape from the imprisonment and bonds of the flesh, which men call death, has no real terror, and, instead of shrinking from it with horror, we ought to welcome it as our deliverer from bondage, as an introduction into life.

And without doubt we should regard death in this light if we had not invested it with terrors which belong to an entirely different subject, and lost air true idea of the nature and reality of the world to which it introduces us. Before man had so far receded from that world by a life of evil as almost to forget its existence, death had no terrors. It was the gate of entrance into a new life. He lay down to sleep with the delightful hope and perfect confidence that he would wake in a new world. Death was going home ; it was the conscious entrance into a higher state of being. It was the happy reunion with loved ones who had gone before. It was a step which brought him nearer to the Fountain of all life and the Author of all human blessedness. How could it be regarded with fear? How could the soul shrink from it with horror ? Suppose the chrysalis, imprisoned in that hard covering we may call its body, buried in the earth and limited to a bare existence, could have a perception of the change that is soon to take place in its state. It is soon to burst the gates of its present life and emerge into a new world of light and beauty. Instead of being buried in the dark earth, it is to soar aloft through the air, to bask in the light and warmth of the summer sun, to sport in joyous flights in happy bands, to feed upon the honeyed dews and the distilled sweets of flowers.

Do you think it would look forward to such a change with dread ? But the change from the chrysalis almost devoid of life, shut up in the dark, to the gay and beautiful insect is not so great as the change that takes place in man in his resurrection from the material body. This change, then, which men call death, this putting off of the material body, is not, cannot be, an interruption of the Divine plan, a thwarting of the Divine purposes of good towards His human children. It must be the fulfilment of those purposes. All Scripture properly understood, all right reason, teaches us that it must be so. To deny it is to plunge into inexplicable absurdities. But there is a death which we ought to fear, and from which we shall do well to shrink with horror, and that is spiritual death, sometimes called the “second death.” This death does not consist in a cessation of existence, nor in the departure from this world to the spiritual world, but in the inversion and destruction of the true order of man’s nature.

Man is said to be alive, in the Word, when he receives life from the Lord according to the original order and constitution of his nature. The Jews were promised life if they would obey the laws of the Lord. The whole Word is full of the same promises. ” If thou wilt enter into life,” said our Saviour, ”keep the commandments.” He came that men might have life. This was spiritual and not natural life. And the reason why life is promised on the condition of keeping the commandments, and often as a reward for keeping them, is because the commandments are the laws of life. The rewards are not arbitrarily given, but follow as a consequence, as the physician may promise health on the condition of our obeying the laws of physical life.

Man was created by infinite wisdom according to a certain order. By observing this order he would attain his life, a life ever increasing in fulness and degree. Any deviation from that order would be attended with some loss of life. It would prevent man from receiving life from the Lord in its fulness and perfection. The moment man violated a law of his spiritual nature he suffered some loss of spiritual capacity. Man began to die. This was the warning the Lord gave Adam and Eve, “In the day that thou eatest thereof, thou shalt surely die.” And the warning was not an idle one. They did die in the day, not the natural day of twenty-four hours, but in the state and according to the degree that they ate of the forbidden fruit, which was evil. And this is a universal law in all orders and degrees of the creation. When the laws of vegetable life are broken, the plant begins to die. When the laws of animal life, of man’s physical life, are violated, the animal and the body begin to die. Death follows as an inevitable consequence. It is not arbitrarily inflicted. As the soul is immortal, spiritual death is not the cessation of existence, but the loss of the soul’s ability to receive life from the Lord in true order. The substances which compose the soul cannot be dissipated as the material elements which compose plants, animals, and the material body can. Man as a spiritual being must continue to exist, but in a state of spiritual death.

There are two principal characteristics of this death worthy of our notice. First, it is a loss of life. Man was created by the Lord with the power of perpetual and indefinite advancement in his capacity to know and love and be happy. The more we learn, the more we are capable of learning. The more we love, the more we are capable of loving. The more we enjoy, the more we are capable of enjoying. So that the feeblest child upon the earth may ultimately pass beyond the present state of the highest angel. But spiritual death arrests this development. It closes up the higher degrees of man’s mind against Divine influences, and shuts out the light and life of heaven. His whole nature becomes stunted and dwarfed. He stops in the grand and endless career of life at the beginning, and loses all the glory and blessedness of the eternal future. And no finite mind can estimate that loss. Men are often inconsolable at the loss of property or office, on account of hinderance in some earthly career, but that is a mere nothing compared with his loss who dies at the beginning of life. How sad it is to see a blind child ! By the death of his eyes how much he has lost ! He must wander in darkness through the earth, comparatively helpless, for ten, twenty, fifty years, unconscious of its beauty of form and color, of the significance of expressive faces and gestures, of the changing glories of the seasons, of day and night, and the ever-shifting play of things by which the web of human life is woven. How great, how irreparable, how sad the loss ! And yet what is that compared with the loss of one’s spiritual sight? Nothing,—absolutely nothing ! One is the loss for a few years of the sight of earthly things, the other the loss to eternity of the inexpressible beauty and glory of heaven. This is but one of the senses.

Suppose you had held in your hand the first grain of wheat that was created. You planted it, and in time it just pushed its head above the ground, and there its progress is arrested. It remains a green blade, but becomes nothing more. What a loss to humanity ! Thousands of millions of acres, waving with golden harvests, the staff of life for thousands of generations, broken. It surpasses the power of the finite mind to conceive the loss to humanity, and yet that is nothing compared with what every soul will lose whose progress is arrested in the first beginning of life by spiritual death. ” What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul ?”

You observe that I say nothing so far about pain and punishment, but speak merely of loss of attainment, of what man does not gain, of the endless and only less than infinite blessings the Lord intended for him which he fails to receive. And if he were to stop there, like the grain of wheat arrested in its growth, and suffer no pain, suffer nothing but the loss, can you conceive anything more terrible ? What a blasting of hopes ! What bankruptcy ! What eternal ruin ! Who would not fear a death which closes the gates of such hopes against us and bars us from the possession of such endless and ineffable joys ? But this is not all. By that inversion of life which we call spiritual death the soul comes into such a state of disorder and discord with the Fountain of life and with all outward things that it is filled with perpetual pain. It is not my purpose to describe the woes and agonies of the second death. We all know something of what they are, for there is not a sorrow or pain that afflicts human hearts that is not the effect of the second death. Count up your own sorrows, the pain from blasted hopes, the pangs of regret, the stings of remorse, the chafings from conflicting interests, the smarts of jealousy and shame, and the great shadow of fear that lies like a cloud upon all hearts ; measure the sum of human suffering in the hearts around you, and they will declare the awful consequences of this death in a language more forcible and eloquent than the painter’s colors or the writer’s words. Add to these, if you can, the future consequences of this death, the night that has no hope of a coming morning, the cup of misery that can never be drained, the feverish and tormenting desires that can never be appeased. Is there not reason in the Divine words, ” And I say unto you, my friends. Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear : Fear him, who after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell. Yea, I say unto you. Fear him” !

Is there not every reason to fear this death ? Human language is totally inadequate to express its horrors. Human imagination cannot adequately conceive its awful terrors. You may fear it ; you ought to fear it; teach your children to fear it ; warn your friends and neighbors to fear it. It is the most terrible thing in the universe. And yet men do not fear it. They play and dance with it ; they crown it with roses, and sink willingly into its embrace. Gentle and timid women, who would scream at a harmless insect and fall into a swoon at the sight of blood, will gayly and boldly toy with death ; will greet it with gay laughter and song, and cherish it with its hideous deformities and the sting of its endless pain in the secret shrine of their hearts. And men who call themselves ruined if they lose money, who are ashamed of goodness and have not sufficient courage to say, I have done wrong, are bold enough to do the wrong.

I know of no illusion of evil so cunning and destructive to human souls as that which conceals the horrors of real death with deceptive and vain delights, and invests a mere step in life with all the horrors of death. How we mourn when a beloved one is translated ! We look at the body which is cast off, and our eyes are blinded with tears. But who weeps over the dead souls that fill our houses and throng our streets ? The stir and bustle and noisy activity that everywhere meet the eye and fall upon the ear are not the sounds of life. The shout and song that come from festive halls are not the sounds of living souls, but too often the wild, mad revelry of death. And the earth, this beautiful and glorious earth, created to be the birthplace of immortal souls and the sweet cradle of infancy, the nursery of heaven, has become a vast sepulchre, a dwelling for the dead, a grave in which human souls are buried.

We die spiritually before we do naturally. The death of the body only lifts the veil and reveals to us in clear light the death of the soul that already exists, and permits us to pass on to its full consequences. When the body has performed its use, it fades like the blossom, it withers and falls like the husk, and reveals the life or death that exists within. It does not cause it ; it does not add to it or subtract from it, any more than the removal of the chaff adds to or subtracts from the wheat. Let us not, then, confound these two things so entirely distinct and different, and live in constant dread of that death which is but an orderly step in life and a provision of infinite mercy, while we forget the real danger of our souls.

Author: Chauncey Giles, From Progress in Spiritual Knowledge, 1895

http://www.scienceofcorrespondences.com/white-horse.htm

Copyright © 2007-2013 A. J. Coriat All rights reserved.

 

OTHER SITES WHERE YOU CAN READ/SEARCH SWEDENBORG

Evidence of life after death – Is there any?

We have all heard about so-called communications purportedly from a spirit world through mediums. However, less well known are those where no medium is involved. These have been called ‘after death communications’ (ADCs) and might  be seen as evidence of life after death. An ADC is defined as a spiritual experience that occurs when someone is contacted directly and spontaneously by a deceased family member or friend.

Is Marian’s ADC evidence of life after death?

For example Marian aged 71 years who lives in Florida was in bed reading one evening. Her father had been dead for 33 years but she suddenly  heard his voice urgently telling her to get out of the bed. She walked into the  family room and sat down for 3 minutes wondering. She then felt the whole house shuddering with things rattling in cupboards and falling off shelves. Going outside she saw why. A heavy branch from her neighbour’s tree had fallen on her  roof; a totally unexpected event as it had been a windless night.  In her bedroom she discovered three enormous holes in the ceiling and her bed covered with lumber, plaster, and debris.

Are such reports about what dead loved ones say, just the wish fulfilling fantasies and dreams of grieving people as most professional social care and health workers say, or are they genuine communication from the  dead and thus evidence of life after death? It is difficult to argue that Marian was grieving for her late father,  given the length of time since her bereavement.

The Guggenheim’s evidence of life after death

evidence of life after death
Judy Guggenheim

According to research by Bill and Judy Guggenheim, ADCs happen surprisingly often and many first-hand accounts are reported in their book Hello from Heaven.

They point out that, since many religions specifically warn against summoning ‘spirits’, all experiences that involved seances, Ouija boards, crystal balls etc., were excluded from  their study. They advertised for first-hand accounts of after death communications and spoke with 2,000 people in North America filling more than 10,000 pages of interview transcripts.

Perhaps it is only in reading these that one can make an informed judgment about their credibility as evidence of life after death. Confidence about this is increased when the receiver is not in a state of grief and when unknown information is received.

Is Millinda’s ADC evidence of life after death?

Another example is that of Millinda. She and Tom grew up together as next-door neighbours. She lost contact with him after she moved to  Texas. Ten years later she woke up one night and saw him standing at the bottom of her bed in a Navy uniform. She had thought he was intending to become a Catholic priest. He said, “Good-bye, Melinda, I’m leaving now.” And he disappeared. After three days she received a letter from her mother saying Tom had been killed in action serving as a chaplain in the Navy. More evidence of life after death?

Are Swedenborg’s ADCs evidence of life after death?

Most people who have an ADC do so only once. However Emanuel Swedenborg was someone who reported having many ADCs from the spirits of dead people. These were not loved ones for whom he had had any sense of loss or grief.

According to his testimony, he did occasionally experience the after-life in a dream or vision, but nearly always it was in a state of full wakefulness so that he could retain his full freedom and exercise his human judgment. He wrote up these extraordinary experiences in meticulous detail and included reports of these in his theological and philosophical books.

The reason people today who experience an ADC is often specific – to warn them of some danger, to prepare them for the shock of a sudden bereavement, to provide them with needed help, and to reassure them about the well-being of a love one who has died. However in the case of Swedenborg the purpose was to provide a comprehensive description of the after-life.

He describes what he calls ‘the spiritual world’ as similar to the life with which we are familiar. He says, however, it does not follow physical laws but rather reflects human feeling and thought.

For all that, it is just as real as our world and in fact he emphasises the solidity of what is seen there and the individual spirit body of each inhabitant.

“After death, we enjoy every sense, memory, thought, and affection we had in the world: we leave nothing behind  except our earthly body. Repeated experience has witnessed to me that when we move from the natural world into the spiritual, which happens when we die, we take with us everything that pertains to our character except our earthly body. In fact, when we enter the spiritual world or our life after death, we are in a body as we were in this world. There seems to be no difference, since we do not feel or see any difference. This body is spiritual, though, so it has been separated or purified from earthly matter. Further, when anything spiritual touches and sees something spiritual, it is just like something natural touching and seeing something natural. So when we have become a spirit, we have no sense that we are not in the body we inhabited in the world, and therefore do not realize that we have died.” (Swedenborg Heaven and Hell section 461)

Copyright 2012 Stephen Russell-Lacy
Author of  Heart, Head & Hands  Swedenborg’s perspective on emotional problems

http://www.spiritualquestions.org.uk/

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