True Christian Religion #359

By Emanuel Swedenborg

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359. (iv) But still faith, charity or life in either of them is not in the least created by man, but only by the Lord.

For we read that man cannot take anything, unless it is given him from heaven (John 3:27). And Jesus said:

He who remains in me, and I in him, brings forth much fruit, because without me you can do nothing, John 15:5.

This, however, must be understood to mean that a person can only acquire by his own efforts natural faith, which is a firm belief that a thing is so because an authoritative person so declared it. He can also acquire only natural charity, which is working in someone's favour for the sake of some reward. These two contain man's self, and there is no life as yet from the Lord. Still a person by either of these prepares himself to receive the Lord. In so far as he prepares himself, so far does the Lord come in and make his natural faith spiritual, and likewise his charity, and so make both living. These results follow when a person approaches the Lord as the God of heaven and earth.

Since man was created an image of God, he was created to be a dwelling for God. Therefore the Lord says:

He who has my commandments and does them, he it is who loves me; and I shall love him, and come to him and make my dwelling with him, John 14:21, 23.


Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with me, Revelation 3:20.

From these statements the conclusion follows, that in so far as a person prepares himself on the natural level to receive the Lord, so does the Lord come in and make everything within him spiritual, so giving everything life. On the other hand, however, in so far as a person does not prepare himself, to that extent he distances the Lord from himself, and does everything of himself; and what a person does of himself has no life in it. But it is impossible to cast much light on this subject until I have discussed charity and free will, and I shall come back to it later in the chapter on reformation and regeneration.

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