Commentary

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

A Brief Exposition of New Church Doctrine #52

A Brief Exposition of New Church Doctrine (Stanley translation)

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52. BRIEF ANALYSIS

This is shown by experience. How many are there at this day who live according to the precepts of the Decalogue, and the other precepts of the Lord, from a religious principle? And how many are there at this day who desire to look their own evils in the face and perform actual repentance, and thus enter upon worship which is of the life? Or who, among those who practise piety, perform any other repentance than that of the mouth and speech, confessing themselves to be sinners, and praying from the doctrine of the Church that God the Father, Who from compassion on account of the Son Who suffered upon the cross for their sins, took away their damnation and atoned for them with His blood, would mercifully forgive their transgressions so that they might stand unspotted before His judgment-seat? Who does not see that this worship is of the lungs only, not of the heart thus, external, not internal? For in such worship a man prays for remission of sins, and yet is not conscious of a single sin in himself; and if he should know of any, he would envelop it with favour and indulgence, or with a faith supposedly purifying and absolving, without any works on his part. But this may be compared to a servant who, approaching his master with his face and clothes bedaubed with soot and filth, should say to him:

"Master, wash me." Would not his master say to him: "Thou foolish servant, what are you saying? See, there is water, soap and a towel. Have you not hands, and can you not use them? Wash yourself." So also, would not the Lord God say: "There are from Me the means of purification; from Me also you have will and power. Wherefore, use these gifts of Mine and these talents of your own, and you will be purified."

Consider also another example by way of illustration. Suppose you should pray a thousand times at home and in church that God the Father, for the sake of His Son, would preserve you from the devil, and yet you did not keep yourself from evil and so from the devil by that freedom of will in which you are perpetually kept by the Lord, you could not then be preserved even by legions of angels sent by the Lord. For the Lord cannot act contrary to His own Divine order, which is that a man should examine himself, discover his evils and resist them, and this as of himself, although from the Lord. This, indeed, does not appear at this day to be the gospel; nevertheless, it is so; for the gospel is that we are saved by the Lord.

The reason why the worship of the mouth is accepted by the Lord only so far as it accords with worship which is of the life, is because man's speech before God and before His angels sounds from the affection of his love and faith, and these two are in man according to his life. Wherefore, if the love of God and faith in Him are in your life, the sound of your voice will be like that of a dove. But if self-love and self-confidence are in your life, the sound of your voice will be like that of an owl, however you may attempt to imitate the turtle-dove. The spiritual quality, which is within the sound, effects this.

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