From Swedenborg's Works


True Christianity #571

True Christianity (Rose translation)      

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571. Chapter 10: Reformation and Regeneration

Now that repentance has been treated, the next topic in order is our reformation and regeneration. These two both follow our repentance and are moved forward by it.

There are two states that we all inevitably enter into and go through if we are to turn from an earthly person into a spiritual person. The first state is called reformation, the second is called regeneration. In the first state we look from our earthly self toward having a spiritual self; being spiritual is what we long for. In the second state we become someone who is both spiritual and earthly. The first state is brought about by truths (these have to be truths related to faith); through these truths we aim to develop goodwill. The second state is brought about by good actions that come from goodwill; through these actions we come [more deeply] into truths related to faith.

To put it another way, the first state is a state of thought that occurs in our intellect; the second state is a state of love that occurs in our will. As the second state begins and progresses, a change takes place in our minds. There is a reversal, because then the love in our will flows into our intellect and leads and drives it to think in agreement and harmony with what we love. As good actions that come from love take on a primary role, and the truths related to faith are relegated to a secondary role, we become spiritual and are a new creation [2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15]. Then our actions come from goodwill and our words come from faith; we develop a sense of the goodness that comes from goodwill and a perception of the truth that is related to faith; and we are in the Lord and in a state of peace. In brief, we are reborn.

[2] If we begin the first state while we are in this world, we can be brought into the second state after we die. If we do not begin the first state while we are in this world, we cannot be brought into the second state or be reborn after we die.

These two states can be compared to the increase of light and heat that occurs as the day progresses in springtime. The first state is like the early light before dawn, when the rooster crows. The second state is like the dawn and the morning. The further development within the second state is like the increase of light and heat as the day progresses toward noon.

These two states can also be compared with the growth of grain crops. In the first stage they are like grass; after that they develop ears or fruiting spikes; and finally the grain itself grows within those structures.

These two states can also be compared with the growth of a tree. It begins as a sprout growing out of a seed in the ground. This then becomes a shoot. Then branches form and are adorned with leaves. Then the tree blossoms and fruit begins to grow in the heart of the flowers. As the fruit grows and develops, it produces new seeds, which are in effect the tree's offspring.

The first state, the state of reformation, can be compared to the state of a silkworm when it draws silky threads out of itself and wraps itself in them. After all its hard work [of transformation], it becomes able to fly in the air and feeds no longer on leaves as before but on the nectar of flowers.

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2 Corinthians 5:17

English: King James Version         

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17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

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From Swedenborg's Works

Explanations or references:

True Christian Religion 573, 601, 687

References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Coronis (An Appendix to True Christian Religion) 3

Scriptural Confirmations 20, 84, 101

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From Swedenborg's Works


True Christian Religion #601

True Christian Religion (Chadwick translation)      

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601. VIII. When a person is regenerated, he acquires a new will and a new understanding.

The present-day church is aware that, when a person is regenerated, he is renewed or becomes a new person; this is evident both from the Word and from reason. These passages from the Word prove this:

Make yourself a new heart and a new spirit; why will you die, o house of Israel? Ezekiel 18:31.

I will give you a new heart and a new spirit in your midst, and I will take away the heart of stone from your flesh; and I will give you a heart of flesh, and I will put my spirit in your midst, Ezekiel 36:26-27.

From now on we know no one according to the flesh; so if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature. 2 Corinthians 5:16-17.

A new heart in these passages means a new will, a new spirit means a new understanding. For heart in the Word stands for the will, and spirit, when linked with the heart, for the understanding.

The argument from reason is: when a person is regenerated he has a new will and a new understanding because these two faculties are what make him a human being, and it is these which are regenerated. Everyone, therefore, is such as he is in these two respects. If his will is evil, he is evil, and the more so if his understanding favours evil; and the reverse is true, if his will is good. It is only religion which renews and regenerates a person. Religion is allotted the highest place in the human mind, and sees below it the social matters which concern the world. Religion too climbs up through these as the pure sap rises in a tree to its top, and from that lofty position it has a view of natural matters, just as someone on a tower or a mountain has a view of the plains beneath.

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