Divine Wisdom #4

By Emanuel Swedenborg
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The way man is reformed is altogether similar to the way he is formed in the womb, the only difference being that the man to be reformed has Will and Understanding, whereas in the womb he has not. Still, this difference does not in any way prevent there being this likeness and analogy. For, in reforming and regenerating a man, the Lord similarly leads his Will and Understanding, but because of the Will and Understanding being given him, the appearance is that the man himself is leading himself, that is, that he wills and acts from himself, and from himself thinks and speaks. Nevertheless he knows from the Word, and from doctrine derived from the Word, that it is not himself that does this, but the Lord: and consequently that it is only how it appears; and he may know, too, that the purpose of its so appearing is that he may be able to receive and appropriate; for if it did not so appear, there would be nothing reciprocal in him, so that he may love the Lord as the Lord loves him, and may as from himself love the neighbour, and as from himself believe in the Lord. Without this reciprocal a man would be like an automaton, and in an automaton the Lord could not be present; for the Lord desires to be loved, and therefore gives to man to desire it, from which it is clear that neither Will nor Understanding is the man's, but that both of them, considered in themselves, are just as they were in him while he was in the womb, when namely they were not his, these two faculties being bestowed upon man so that he may will and think and also do and speak, as from himself, while nevertheless knowing, understanding and believing that they are not from himself. By this means, a man is reformed and regenerated, and takes into his Will the love, and into his Understanding the wisdom, from which also he was formed in the womb. [2] By this means, moreover, the two higher degrees of the man's life, which, as said above, were dwelling-places of the Lord while he was being formed, are opened in him, while in addition the lowest degree which, as also stated, was inverted and bent back, is reformed.

From this analogy and likeness it is clear that, in the process of regeneration, a man is as it were newly conceived, formed, born and brought up; and this, to the end that he may become a likeness of the Lord in respect of love, and an image of Him in respect of wisdom; and, if only you will believe it, a man does in fact become new by that means; not only is he given a new Will and a new Understanding, but his spirit is given a new body as well. The things that were there, are not indeed entirely effaced but only put aside so as not to appear, and the new things are, by the love and wisdom which are the Lord, formed in the regenerated man as in a womb. For such as is a man's Will and Understanding, such also is he in each and all things, for each and all things in a man, from head to foot, are productions from them, as shown above.

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