True Christian Religion #457

By Emanuel Swedenborg

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457. The case is different with those who only worship God and do not at the same time perform good deeds out of charity. These people are like those who tear up an agreement. It is different again with those who divide God into three, and worship each one separately; and different yet again with those who approach God, but not in His Human. These are the people who do not go in by the door, but climb up another way (John 10:1, 9). It is different yet again with those who are confirmed unbelievers in the Lord's divinity. None of these groups can achieve linking with God, and as a result salvation. Their charity too can only be spurious, and this does not allow linking face to face, but only at the side or back.

[2] A few words must be said on how the linking takes place. God flows into what everyone knows about God, bringing about an acknowledgment of God, and at the same time imparting His love for mankind. If a person receives only the first and not the second, the inflow reaches only his understanding, and not his will, and he remains knowing about God without any inward acknowledgment of God, so that his condition resembles that of a garden in wintertime. But if a person receives both the first and the second, the inflow reaches his will and comes from there into his understanding, so occupying his whole mind. Then he makes an inward acknowledgment of God, which brings to life what he knows about God, so that his condition resembles that of a garden in springtime.

[3] The reason why linking is produced by charity is that God loves each and every human being; and because He cannot do good to them directly, but only indirectly by means of other people, He therefore breathes into people His love, just as He breathes into parents love for their children. Anyone who receives that love is linked to God, and the love of God makes him love the neighbour. In him, the love of God is contained within his love towards his neighbour, and it is this which gives him his will and ability to act.

[4] Since no one can do any good deed unless it seems to him as if his ability, will and activity come from himself, this appearance is granted to him; and when he does it freely as if of his own accord, it is imputed to him, and accepted as the reciprocal act which brings about linking. This is like the relationship between active and passive, and the co-operation of the passive being produced in it as the result of the active. Or it is like the will being present in actions, and thought being present in speech, and the soul working at the innermost level on each of these. Or it is like effort in motion; and like the reproductive principle of the seed, which acts from within on the juices, causing the tree to grow until it produces fruit, and by means of the fruit to produce fresh seeds. Or it is like light falling on precious stones, the reflexion of which depends on the texture of the parts it strikes, thus producing various colours, which seem to belong to the gems, when in fact they are properties of the light.

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