Order and Disorder

By Joe David and Rev. Julian Duckworth

Four Mandalas

The establishment of an order within creation runs throughout divine activity. There are many orderly laws of providence by which the Divine governs all things and which the Divine cannot transgress.

If you look at the universe, containing so many stars and galaxies, extending so far, and containing so much sustaining energy, you can sense the overwhelming order that enables it to provide for solar systems and planets that surely provide other places for life to thrive.

If you learn a little about the physics of matter, where scientists are continuing to postulate building blocks of larger particles and the various forces that bind them at close distances or operate over astronomic distances, you can see not only a mind-boggling complexity, but also a serene order that keeps everything operating as it should and has been doing so for billions of years.

This order comes from God, the creator. His infinite Divine love, as it gets finited and sublimated, is the only real thing, the only thing that exists in itself. Everything else, time and space, elements and physical matter, living creatures and human consciousness, all natural and spiritual entities come from Him. This flowing down, so to speak, is the order that exists, and it is dominant.

The Lord’s order is not only concerned with natural creation but with mankind’s spiritual welfare as well. Mankind is different from all other living creatures because all other living creatures can live only in the order in which they are created, whereas people can deviate from their order because they are free.

The short form of the order for mankind is to "love the Lord with all the heart… and thy neighbor as thyself." Spiritually speaking, people did so until they ate of the parabolic forbidden tree in the Garden of Eden. From that time we began to decide for ourselves what is good and what is evil, rather than trusting what the Lord said. As these decisions multiplied, we turned more and more to ourselves and away from the Lord, and this heredity was passed on generation after generation, slowly getting worse. Order was replaced by disorder.

Eventually our heredity was turned upside down so that the order of our loves is completely backwards, and we are now born with the will to love ourselves rather than the Lord and our neighbor. However, because we have rational minds, we can be taught and trained to turn our minds right side up again, putting a love to the Lord and the neighbor ahead of loves of self and the world, and bringing ourselves back into order.

(References: A Brief Explanation of the Teachings of the New Church 52; Arcana Coelestia 1055, 1475, 4839 [2], 8513, 9736, 10659 [4]; Divine Providence 279 [5]; Heaven and Hell 315, 523; True Christian Religion 53, 54)

From Swedenborg's Works

Arcana Coelestia #10659

Arcana Coelestia (Elliott translation)

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10659. 'Because in the month of Abib you came out of Egypt' means because then there was deliverance from hell. This is clear from the meaning of 'the month of Abib' as the beginning of a new state, as immediately above in Arcana Coelestia 10658; and from the meaning of 'coming out of Egypt' as deliverance from molestation by falsities, thus also from hell, dealt with in Arcana Coelestia 9292, and in the places referred to in Arcana Coelestia 8866, 9197. From all this it becomes clear that the feast of Passover, which was also called the feast of unleavened bread, was established for a remembrance of the Lord's deliverance of mankind from hell. This deliverance was accomplished by the Lord's subduing of the hells and glorifying of His Human, see just above in Arcana Coelestia 10655.

[2] The majority of people within the Church believe that the Lord came into the world to reconcile the Father through the passion of the Cross, after which those for whom He interceded would be accepted. They also believe that He released mankind from damnation by the fulfillment - by Himself alone - of the law, which otherwise would have condemned everyone; and thus that all who held to that belief with confidence and assurance would be saved. But those with any enlightenment from heaven can see how wrong it is to think that the Divine, who is Love itself and Mercy itself, could cast the human race away from Himself and condemn them to hell; that He had of necessity to be reconciled by the passion of His Son on the Cross; that His Mercy was not aroused by anything other than this; that afterwards no one would be condemned for the way he lived, provided he held with confidence to belief in that reconciliation; and that all salvation is accomplished through faith or belief instilled out of mercy. Those who think and believe such things cannot see anything at all; they speak but have no understanding of anything. Mysteries therefore is what they call those things which are to be believed but not by any means understood. From this it follows that any enlightenment from the Word showing that the situation is different from what they suppose it to be is rejected; for light from heaven cannot enter where such dimness resulting from contradictory ideas prevails. The word 'dimness' is used to describe that which is not understood at all.

[3] But to those who receive enlightenment the Lord imparts an ability to understand the things they believe. Those who acknowledge the Lord and love to lead a life in keeping with His commandments are the ones who are enlightened when they read the Word and who have an understanding of it, not those who say they believe and do not lead such a life. For the Lord flows into a person's life and from this into his belief, but not into a person's belief separate from his life. What those who are enlightened by the Lord through the Word understand is that the Lord came into the world to subdue the hells and to restore everything there and in the heavens to order, which could not by any means have been accomplished except through His Human; for He was able from the Human, but not from the Divine without the Human, to fight against the hells. Their understanding is that He also came into the world to glorify His Human, in order that through that glorified Human all things restored to order by Him might be maintained forever in that condition. From this comes the salvation of mankind. For every person is surrounded by the hells; each one is born into evils of every kind, and where evils exist, so do the hells. And unless these had been thrown back by the Lord's Divine Power no one at all could have been saved. These are the things which the Word teaches and which are discerned by all who let the Lord into their life, these, as stated above, being people who acknowledge Him and love to lead a life in keeping with His commandments. See what has been quoted and shown from the Word in Arcana Coelestia 9937, 10019, 10152, 10579, and many other places.

[4] Being led away from evils, being regenerated, and so being saved is all an act of Mercy. This Mercy however does not operate by direct intervention, as people believe, but indirectly, that is, in those who depart from evils and so let the truth of faith and the good of love from the Lord into their life. The direct intervention of mercy, which everyone would experience if no more than God's good pleasure were necessary, is contrary to Divine order; and what is contrary to Divine order is contrary to God, since order begins in God and what is Divine and His in heaven constitutes order. When people accept order in themselves they are saved, and this comes about solely as a result of their leading a life in keeping with the Lord's commandments. The regeneration of a person takes place to the end that he may accept the order of heaven within himself; and that regeneration is accomplished by means of faith and the life of faith, which is charity. Anyone who has that order within him is in heaven, and also presents a kind of image of heaven; but anyone who does not have it is in hell and presents a kind of image of hell. One cannot by any means be changed and transformed into the other by any direct intervention of mercy, since they are opposites; for evil is the opposite of good, and good has life and heaven within it, whereas evil has death and hell within it. The impossibility for one to be transformed into the other is the Lord's teaching in Luke,

Abraham said to the rich man in hell, Between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass across from here to you cannot, nor can those who are there pass across to us. Luke 16:26.

Furthermore if the direct intervention of mercy were possible all people in the world, however many, would be saved, and hell would not exist; for the Lord, being Love itself which desires the salvation of all and the death of none, is Mercy itself.

(References: Exodus 34:18)

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