Apocalypse Explained #803

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803. And there was given to him authority over every tribe and tongue and nation, signifies domination over all the truths and goods of the church, and over the doctrine of faith and love. This is evident from the signification of "authority," as being domination; also from the signification of "tribe," as being the truths and goods of the church in general (see above, n. 39, 330, 430, 431, 454, 657). Also from the signification of "tongue," as being the doctrine of the church, also confession and religion (see above, n. 330, 455, 625, 657), here the doctrine of faith; also from the signification of "nation," as being the good of love, likewise the doctrine of love, and thence of the church (see above, n. 175, 331, 625, 657). From this it can be seen that "authority was given to the beast over every tribe and tongue and nation" signifies domination over all the truths and goods of the church, and over the doctrine of faith and love. And as "the beast" signifies faith separated from the life, corroborated and established by reasonings from the natural man, it follows that to such a faith domination is given over all things of the church and its doctrine. It is evident that domination was given to this faith, since faith alone is the universal prevailing principle in the churches; for it has been taken to be the essential means of salvation, as is clearly evident from the doctrines of the churches, as well as from the verbal profession of the men of the church, and in general from their lives; also from this, that they do not know what charity and love are, consequently what works are. And as such is the domination of faith separate, so it has domination over all the truths and goods of the church, and extinguishes them by falsifying, perverting, and adulterating them; for where that faith rules there is no longer anything good, and thence no truth.

(Referenties: The Apocalypse Explained 430-431)

[2] It is known that faith from love is the essential means of salvation, and thus is the principle of the doctrine of the church; but since it is important to know how a man can be in such enlightenment as to learn the truths that must constitute his faith and in such affection as to do the goods that must constitute his love, and thus can know whether his faith is a belief in truth and his love a love of good, this shall be told in its proper order, as follows: 1. Let him read the Word every day, one or two chapters, and learn from a master and from preachings the dogmas of his religion; and especially let him learn that God is one, and that the Lord is the God of heaven and earth (John 3:35; 17:2; Matthew 11:27; 28:18), that the Word is holy, that there is a heaven and a hell, and that there is a life after death.

2. Let him learn from the Word, from a master, and from preachings, what works are sins, and that they are especially adulteries, thefts, murders, false witness, and the others mentioned in the Decalogue; likewise that lascivious and obscene thoughts are also adulteries, that frauds and illicit gains are also thefts, that hatred and revenge are also murders, and that lies and blasphemies are also false witness; and so on. Let him learn all these things from childhood to youth.

3. When man begins to think for himself, which is the case after he has grown up, it must be to him the first and chief thing to refrain from doing evils for the reason that they are sins against the Word, thus against God, and for the reason that if he does them he will gain, not life eternal, but hell; and afterwards as he grows up and becomes old he must shun them as damned, and must turn away from them in thought and intention. But in order to so refrain from them and shun and turn away from them, he must pray to the Lord for help. The sins he must refrain from and must shun and turn away from are chiefly adulteries, frauds, illicit gains, hatreds, revenges, lies, blasphemies, and elation of mind.

4. So far as man detests these evils because they are opposed to the Word, and thence opposed to God, so far there is granted him communication with the Lord, and conjunction is effected with heaven. For the Lord enters, and with the Lord heaven enters, as sins are removed; since these and their falsities are the sole hindrances. The reason is because man has been placed in the midst between heaven and hell, wherefore hell acts from the one side, and heaven from the other; therefore so far as evils that are from hell are removed, so far goods from heaven enter; for the Lord says:

Behold I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hear and open the door, I will come in to him (Revelation 3:20).

But if man refrains from doing these evils for any other reason than because they are sins, and are opposed to the Word and because thence to God, no conjunction of heaven with him is effected, because his refraining is from self, and not from the Lord. The Lord is in the Word, even so that He is called the Word (John 1:1-4), because the Word is from Him; consequently the conjunction of heaven with the man of the church is by means of the Word, as may be seen in the work on Heaven and Hell 303-310).

5. So far, then, as man detests these sins so far good affections enter. Then so far as he detests adulteries so far chastity enters; so far as he detests frauds and unlawful gains so far sincerity and justice enter; so far as he detests hatred and revenge so far charity enters; so far as he detests lies and blasphemies so far truth enters; and so far as he detests elation of mind so far humility before God and love of the neighbor as oneself enter; and so on. From this it follows that to shun evils is to do goods.

6. So far as a man is in these good affections he is led by the Lord and not by self; and so far as he acts from them so far he does what is good, because he does this from the Lord and not from self; and then he acts from chastity, from sincerity and justice, from charity, from truth, in humility before God; and from these no one can act from self.

7. The spiritual affections that are granted by the Lord to him who is in them and who acts from them, are the affection of knowing and understanding the truths and goods of heaven and the church, together with the affection of willing and doing them; also the affection of combating with zeal against falsities and evils and dispersing them, both with himself and with others. From this man has faith and love, and from this he has intelligence and wisdom.

8. Thus and in no other way is man reformed; and so far as he knows and believes truths, and wills and does them, so far is he regenerated, and from natural becomes spiritual. The like is true of his faith and his love.

[3] If evils have not been removed because they are sins nothing that a man thinks, speaks, wills, and does, is good or true before God, however it may appear as if good and true before the world. The reason is that they are not from the Lord but from man, since it is the love of the man and of the world from which they are, and which is in them. Most people at this day believe that they will come into heaven if they have faith, live piously, and do goods; and yet they do not turn away from evils because they are sins, consequently they either do them or believe them to be allowable; and those who believe them to be allowable do them when opportunity is given. But let them know that their faith is not faith, that their pious things are not pious, and that their goods are not goods; for they flow from the impurities that lie inwardly concealed with man; and externals derive everything that they are from internals. For the Lord says:

Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup and of the platter, that the outside may become clean also (Matthew 22:26).

From this it can now be seen that if a man were able to fulfill all things of the law, if he should give much to the poor, if he should do good to the fatherless and the widow, and if he should also give bread to the hungry and drink to the thirsty, take in the strangers, clothe the naked, visit the sick, and go to them that are bound in prison, if he should earnestly preach the Gospel, convert the Gentiles, frequent temples, listen devoutly to preachings, observe the sacrament of the Supper often every year, spend his time in prayer, and other things; and his internal has not been purified from hatred and revenge, from craftiness and malice, from insincerity and injustice, from the filthy delight of adultery, from the love of self and the consequent love of rule, and the pride of self-intelligence, from contempt of others in comparison with oneself, and from the other evils and their falsities; still all these works would be hypocritical and from the man himself, and not from the Lord. And yet these same works, when the internal has been purified, are all good, because they are from the Lord with man, and since the man is in the faith and in the love of doing these works he will do them as a matter of course. This has been proved to me by a thousand examples in the spiritual world. I have there heard that it has been granted to many to recall the actions of their life in the world, and to enumerate the goods they had done; but when their internal was opened it was found to be full of every evil and the falsity therefrom; and it was then disclosed to them that the goods they had enumerated had been done from self, because for the sake of self and the world, and that they were full of evils from their interiors; and on this account they appeared either as if scorched with fire, or as if sooty.

[4] But it was otherwise with those who from the Word had abstained from doing evils, and had afterwards shunned them and turned away from them because they were sins and were opposed to love to God and to charity towards the neighbor. Although there was a similar perception to them that their works were done as if from self, yet they were all good, and appeared in the light of heaven like white snow and wool (Isaiah 1:12-18). These are the works that are meant in the Word by the works that can in no wise be separated from faith; for faith separated from them is dead, and a dead faith is a faith in falsity from an evil love; or it is the thought that a thing is true, while the life is still evil.

That abstaining from evils for any reason whatever except from the Word does not purify the internal man is evident from the origin of evil works and from the origin of good works. For example, he that abstains from adulteries from fear of the civil law and its punishments, from fear of the loss of reputation and thus of honor, from fear of deprivations arising from poverty, parsimony, or avarice, from fear of consequent illness, from fear of brawls at home with the wife and the consequent intranquility of life, from fear of chastisement by the servants of the injured husband, from infirmity arising from abuse, or age, or impotence, or even from natural goodness and consequent moral goodness, that is, as not being proper and honorable, and so on, and if for such reasons only he lives chastely still he is interiorly unchaste and an adulterer, so long as he does not abstain from these evils from spiritual faith, which is a belief that adulteries are infernal because they are contrary to the Divine Law, and thus contrary to the fear of God and to love of the neighbor. And so in all other cases.

[5] From what has now been presented it can be seen what the internal and the external are, also what faith and love are, namely, that faith and love are with man when his internal has been purified from evils in the manner just described, and that they are not in him if it be not purified, and that where faith and love are, there is heaven, and where faith and love are not, there is hell. More on this may be seen hereafter n. 825.

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