Commentary

Happiness

By Rev. Julian Duckworth and New Christian Bible Study Staff

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Does God want us to be happy? What does the Bible say about happiness?

“Happiness” may seem like a passing thing, and hardly the ultimate goal in most belief systems. In fact, though, it is the Lord’s greatest goal for us: He wants us to be happy. If we allow it, He will lead and guide us to be as happy as we are able to be.

The whole reason the Lord created us was so that he could love us, and what else but happiness do you wish for someone you love? But the happiness the Lord wants for us is not the passing joy of satisfying our bodily desires but the exquisite eternal joy of conjunction with the Lord and true love of the neighbor, things harder to see and harder to attain but ultimately far more delightful.

Swedenborg distinguishes heaven’s happiness from worldly happiness of satisfying our bodily desires. In heaven, all happiness is felt from loving the Lord and being of use, living for the sake of others. Everything the Lord does is part of his attempt to lead us to that state, and in everything that happens to us - even the things that are the most tragic on the natural level - he provides opportunities for us to move toward that state.

The Lord also, however, leaves us in freedom. We can reject his efforts and turn away if we choose to, and while that choice may seem to us to lead toward happiness, it is a passing, natural happiness that is ultimately only a shadow of the joy he desires for us. However, those in hell are "happy" being there because the life there matches their self-centered love they chose to cultivate while on earth. If those in hell could be lifted up to heaven, they would feel tormented.

From Psalm 65:9-13:

Thou visitest the earth, and blessest it; thou makest it very plenteous.
The river of God is full of water: thou preparest their corn, for so thou providest for the earth.
Thou waterest her furrows; thou sendest rain into the little valleys thereof; thou makest it soft with the drops of rain, and blessest the increase of it.
Thou crownest the year with thy goodness; and thy clouds drop fatness.
They shall drop upon the dwellings of the wilderness; and the little hills shall rejoice on every side.
The folds shall be full of sheep; the valleys also shall stand so thick with corn, that they shall laugh and sing.

From John 15:11:
I have told you these things so that My joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.

(References: Arcana Coelestia 1153 [2]; Divine Providence 37)

From Swedenborg's Works

Divine Providence #37

Divine Providence (Dole translation)

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37. 4. The more closely we are united to the Lord, the happier we become. We can say much the same about levels of happiness as was said above (32 and 34) about levels of life and wisdom that depend on our union with the Lord. These times of happiness, bliss, and sheer delight intensify as the higher levels of our minds are opened within us, the levels we call spiritual and heavenly. Once our life on earth is over, these levels keep rising forever.

(References: Divine Providence 32, 34)

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Apocalypse Revealed 630

Divine Providence 45, 58, 123, 202, 253, 323

Other New Christian Commentary

Happiness 1


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

From Swedenborg's Works

Divine Providence #123

Divine Providence (Dole translation)

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123. 7. It is the unceasing effort of the Lord's divine providence to unite us to himself and himself to us in order to give us the joys of eternal life; and this can happen only to the extent that our evils and their compulsions are banished. I explained in 27-45 that it is the constant effort of the Lord's divine providence to unite us to himself and himself to us, and that this union is what we call reformation and regeneration. I explained also that this is the source of our salvation. Can anyone fail to see that union with the Lord is eternal life and salvation? Everyone can see this who believes that we were originally created in the image and likeness of God (see Genesis 1:26-27) and who knows what the image and likeness of God are.

[2] If we are truly rational and use our rationality when we think and use our freedom when we try to think, can any of us believe that there are three gods equal in essence and that the divine Being or divine Essence can be divided? As for a threefold nature in one God, that is something we can conceive and understand, just as we understand the soul and the body of an angel or a person and the life that they bring forth. Further, since this threefold nature in a single Being exists only in the Lord, it follows that any union must be a union with him.

Use your rationality and think freely, and you will see this truth in its own light. First, though, admit that the Lord, heaven, and eternal life are real.

[3] Now, since God is one and since by creation we have been made in his image and likeness, and since we have come into a love for all our evils through our hellish love, its compulsions, and their pleasures, thereby destroying the image and likeness of God within us, it follows that it is the constant effort of the Lord's divine providence to unite us with himself and himself with us and thereby to make us his images. It also follows that the Lord is doing this so that he may give us the bliss of eternal life, since this is the nature of divine love.

[4] The reason he cannot make this gift, cannot make us images of himself, unless we banish sins from our outer self in apparent autonomy is that the Lord is not just divine love but divine wisdom as well; and divine love does nothing unless it stems from divine wisdom and is in accord with it. It is in accord with divine wisdom that we cannot be united to the Lord and thus reformed, regenerated, and saved unless we are allowed to act freely and rationally. This is what makes us human. Anything that is in accord with the Lord's divine wisdom is also in accord with his divine providence.

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Divine Providence 129, 265


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


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