Divine Providence #152

Par Emanuel Swedenborg

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152. Since we do have an inside and an outside, since both of them need to be reformed if we ourselves are to be reformed, and since we cannot be reformed unless we look into ourselves, see and admit what is wrong with us, and then refrain from doing it, it follows that it is not just the outside that needs to be looked into but the inside as well. If only the outside is looked into, then all we see is what we have actually done--we have not killed anyone or committed adultery or stolen anything or perjured ourselves, and so on. That is, we look into our physical evils but not into our spiritual ones. However, we do need to look into the evils of our spirit in order to be reformed, since we live as spirits after death and all the evils in our spirits are still there. The only way to look into our spirits is to pay attention to what we are thinking and especially to what we are striving for, since what we are striving for is what we have in mind because of our intentions. That is where our evils have their origin and their roots, in their compulsions and pleasures; and unless we see and acknowledge them we are still caught up in them even though we may not act on them outwardly. We can see from the following words of the Lord that thinking on the basis of our intentions is both intending and doing:

If anyone has looked at someone else's wife so as to lust for her, he has already committed adultery with her in his heart. (Matthew 5:28)

This kind of examination is proper to the inner self and in essence leads to the examination of the outer self.

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