Divine Providence #144

By Emanuel Swedenborg

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144. No one is reformed in a state of intellectual blindness, either. These individuals, too, are not aware of truths and do not know about life, because it is our discernment that must instruct us in these matters and our volition that must act them out. When our volition is doing what our discernment tells it to, then we have a life in accord with truths; but when our discernment is blind, our volition is blocked as well. All it can do freely in accord with its own reasoning is the evil that it has justified in its discernment, which is false.

If religion teaches a blind faith, it blinds our discernment just the way ignorance does. It is then teaching a false theology; for just as truths open our discernment, falsities close it. They close it from above but open it downward; and discernment that is open only downward cannot see truths. All it can do is justify whatever it wants to, especially anything false.

Our discernment is also blinded by compulsions to evil. As long as our intentions are caught up in these compulsions, they prompt our discernment to justify them; and to the extent that we justify our compulsions to evil, our volition cannot enjoy good desires, see truths on that basis, and so be reformed.

[2] For example, if people are compulsive adulterers, their intentions, being caught up in the pleasures of that love, prompt their discernment to justify it. They say, "What is adultery? Is there anything wrong about it? Isn't it just like what happens between a husband and a wife? Can't children just as well be born from adultery? Can't a woman accept more than one man without being harmed? What does sex have to do with spirituality, anyway?" This is how a discernment that has become prostituted by its volition thinks. It becomes so stupid because of its debauchery with volition that it cannot see that marriage love is the essence of spiritual heavenly love, the image of the love between the Lord and the church from which it flows; that it is inherently holy, the essence of chastity and purity and innocence; that it makes us forms expressive of love itself, because married partners can love each other from the center of their being and so make themselves loves; that adultery destroys this form together with the image of the Lord; and that it is horrendous for an adulterer to mingle his life with the life of the husband in his wife, since there is human life in semen.

[3] Because this is a profanation, hell is called "adultery" and heaven is called "marriage." A love for adultery is in direct touch with the deepest hell, and a true love for marriage with the highest heaven. The reproductive organs of both sexes correspond to communities of the highest heaven.

I mention all this to show how blind our discernment is when our volition is caught up in compulsions to evil, and to show that no one can be reformed in this state of intellectual blindness.

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Thanks to the Swedenborg Foundation for the permission to use this translation.