From Swedenborg's Works

Divine Providence #326

Divine Providence (Dick and Pulsford translation)

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326. These propositions must now be examined and demonstrated one by one. First: The acknowledgment of God brings about the conjunction of God with man and of man with God, and the denial of God causes their separation. Some may think that those who do not acknowledge God can be saved just as well as those who do, provided they lead a moral life. They say, What does acknowledgment accomplish? Is it not mere thought? Can I not easily acknowledge God when I know for certain that there is a God? I have heard of Him but I have not seen Him. Make me see Him and I will believe. Such is the language of many who deny God when they have an opportunity to reason freely with one who acknowledges God. However, that the acknowledgment of God conjoins and the denial of Him separates will be illustrated by some things made known to me in the spiritual world. In that world when anyone thinks about another and desires to converse with him, the other is immediately present. This is general there and never fails. The reason is that in the spiritual world there is no distance as in the natural world, but only an appearance of distance.

[2] Another fact is that as thought from some knowledge of another causes his presence so love from any affection for another causes conjunction with him. Thus it comes to pass that people go about and converse in a friendly way, live together in one house or in one society, frequently meet and render mutual services. The opposite also happens; thus he who does not love another, and still more, he who hates another, does not see or meet him; and the distance they are apart is according to the degree that love is wanting or hate is present. Indeed, should he come into the other's presence and remember his hatred he becomes invisible to him.

[3] From these few particulars it may be evident how presence and conjunction are brought about in the spiritual world; namely, that presence arises from recalling another with a desire to see him and that conjunction arises from an affection which springs from love. It is the same with all the things that are in the human mind. In it there are innumerable things and the several particulars are there associated and conjoined according to affections, or as one thing is attracted to another.

[4] This is spiritual conjunction, which is the same in general things and in particular things. This spiritual conjunction has its origin from the conjunction of the Lord with the spiritual world and with the natural world, in general and in particular. From this it is clear that so far as one knows the Lord and from this knowledge thinks about Him, so far the Lord is present; and so far as anyone acknowledges Him from an affection of love, so far the Lord is conjoined to him: but on the other hand, so far as anyone does not know the Lord so far the Lord is absent; and so far as anyone denies Him, so far is He separated from him.

[5] The result of conjunction is that the Lord turns a man's face to Himself and then leads him; while the result of separation is that hell turns a man's face to itself and leads him. Therefore all the angels of heaven turn their faces to the Lord as the Sun, and all the spirits of hell turn their faces away from the Lord. Hence it is evident what results from the acknowledgment of God, and what from the denial of Him. Those who deny God in the world deny Him after death, and they become organisms according to the description given above (n. 319); and the organisation induced in the world remains for ever.

[6] Second: Everyone acknowledges God and is conjoined to Him according to the good of his life. All can have a knowledge of God who know anything from religion. They can also speak of God from knowledge (scientia), that is, from what is in the memory, and some may also think about Him from the understanding. However, if one does not live well, this only brings about presence; for he can nevertheless turn himself away from God towards hell; and this happens if he lives wickedly. But only those can acknowledge God in their heart who live well; and these according to the good of their life the Lord turns away from hell and towards Himself. The reason is that these alone love God, for they love Divine things, which are from Him, in doing them. The Divine things which are from God are the precepts of His Law. These are God because He is His own Divine going forth: this is to love God, and therefore the Lord says:
He that keepeth my commandment, he it is that loveth me....But he that keepeth not my commandments loveth me not. John 14:21, 24.

(References: John 14:21-24)


[7] This is the reason why there are two tables of the Decalogue, one relating to God and the other relating to man. God works unceasingly that man may receive what is in his own table; but if man does not do the things that are in his table he does not receive with acknowledgment of heart the things that are in God's table; and if he does not receive them he is not conjoined. Therefore those two tables were so joined together as to be one, and were called the tables of the covenant, for covenant signifies conjunction. Everyone acknowledges God and is conjoined to Him according to the good of his life because the good of life is like the good that is in the Lord, and consequently that originates from the Lord. Therefore when man is in the good of life conjunction is effected. The contrary is the case with evil of life; for this rejects the Lord.

[8] Third: The good of life, that is, living well, is shunning evils because they are contrary to religion, thus contrary to God. That this is the good of life, or living well, is fully shown in THE DOCTRINE OF LIFE FOR THE NEW JERUSALEM, from beginning to end. To this I will merely add that if you do good to the fullest extent, for example, if you build churches, adorn them and fill them with votive offerings; if you expend money lavishly on hospitals and guest-houses for strangers, give alms daily, succour widows and orphans; if you diligently observe the holy things of worship, indeed, if you think about them, speak and preach about them as from the heart, and yet do not shun evils as sins against God, all those goods are not good. They are either hypocritical or meritorious, for there is still evil interiorly within them, since the life of everyone is in all things that he does, in general and in particular. Goods only become good by the removal of evil from them. Hence it is clear that shunning evils because they are contrary to religion, thus contrary to God, is living well.

[9] Fourth: These are the general principles of all religions by which everyone can be saved. To acknowledge God and to refrain from doing evil because it is against God are the two things which make religion to be religion. If one of them is wanting it cannot be called religion, since to acknowledge God and to do evil is a contradiction; so also is to do good and yet not acknowledge God, for one is not possible without the other. It has been provided by the Lord that almost everywhere there should be some form of religion, and that in every religion there should be these two principles; and it has also been provided by the Lord that everyone who acknowledges God and refrains from doing evil because it is against God should have a place in heaven. For heaven in the complex resembles one Man whose life or soul is the Lord. In that heavenly Man there are all things which are in a natural man with that difference which exists between things heavenly and things natural.

[10] It is well known that in man there are not only forms, organised from blood vessels and nerve fibres, called viscera, but also skins, membranes, tendons, cartilages, bones, nails and teeth, which have life in a less degree than the organised forms themselves which they serve as ligaments, coverings and supports. The heavenly Man, which is heaven, in order that all these things may be in it, cannot be composed of men all of one religion but of men of many religions. Therefore, all who make these two universal principles of the Church part of their life have a place in that heavenly Man, that is, heaven, and there enjoy happiness in their own degree. More on this subject may be seen above (n. 254).

[11] That these two are the primary principles in every religion may be evident from the fact that they are the two which the Decalogue teaches. The Decalogue was the principal constituent of the Word, and, promulgated by Jehovah by a living voice from Mount Sinai, was written upon two tables of stone by the finger of God. It was then placed in the ark and was called Jehovah, and constituted the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle, and formed the shrine in the temple at Jerusalem, and all the things there derived their sanctity from it alone. There are many more details from the Word concerning the Decalogue in the ark set forth in THE DOCTRINE OF LIFE FOR THE NEW JERUSALEM (n. 53-61), and to these I will add the following: It is well known from the Word that the ark containing the two tables on which the Decalogue was written was taken by the Philistines and placed in the temple of Dagon in Ashdod; and that Dagon fell to the earth before it, and afterwards his head with the palms of his hands torn from his body lay upon the threshold of the temple; and that the people of Ashdod and Ekron, to the number of many thousands, were smitten with emerods on account of the ark, and their land was ravaged by mice; also that the Philistines, on the advice of the chiefs of their nation, made five golden emerods and five golden mice, and a new cart on which they placed the ark with the golden emerods and mice beside it; and, drawn by two cows that lowed on the way before the cart, they sent the ark back to the Children of Israel; and by them the cows and the cart were offered up in sacrifice, in 1 Samuel 5:1-12 and 1 Samuel 6:1-19.

(References: 1 Samuel 5:1, 5, 6)


[12] It will now be stated what all these things signified. The Philistines signified those who are in faith separated from charity. Dagon represented that form of religion. The emerods with which they were smitten signified natural loves which, when separated from spiritual love, are unclean, and the mice signified the devastation of the Church by the falsification of truth. The new cart on which they sent back the ark signified new but natural doctrine, for chariot in the Word signifies doctrine from spiritual truths, and the cows signified good natural affections. The golden emerods signified natural loves purified and made good, and the golden mice signified the vastation of the church ended by means of good, for gold in the Word signifies good. The lowing of the cows on the way signified the difficult conversion of the lusts of evil of the natural man into good affections, and the offering of the cows with the cart as a burnt offering signified that in this way the Lord was propitiated.

[13] This is what is spiritually meant by these things in this historical narrative. Connect them together in one sense and make the application. That the Philistines represented those who are in faith separated from charity may be seen in THE DOCTRINE OF THE NEW JERUSALEM CONCERNING FAITH (n. 49-54); and that the ark, because the Decalogue was contained within it, was the most holy thing of the Church, may be seen in THE DOCTRINE OF LIFE FOR THE NEW JERUSALEM (n. 53-61).

(References: John 14:21-24)

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The Bible

John 14:24

English: King James Version

Study the Inner Meaning

← John 16:25    Full Chapter    John 16:27 →

24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father's which sent me.

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Commentary on this text:

Stories:

Explanation(s) or references from Swedenborg's works:

Arcana Coelestia 2397, 6831, 9245, 10143, 10545, 10578, 10645 ...

Apocalypse Revealed 218, 556, 628, 883, 903, 933, 937 ...

Conjugial Love 129, 336

Divine Love and Wisdom 19, 116

Divine Providence 128, 172, 326

The Lord 20

Doctrine of Life 2, 38, 39

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