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Apocalypse Explained #978

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978. Verse 7 (Revelation 16:7). And I heard another out of the altar saying, signifies the preaching of the Lord's justice from His celestial kingdom. This is evident from the signification of "an angel out of the altar," as being the Lord's celestial kingdom; for the "altar" signifies the Lord as to the Divine good, thus also the heaven that is in the Divine good; that heaven or those heavens constitute the Lord's celestial kingdom. (That the "altar" signifies the Lord as to the Divine good may be seen in n. 391, 490, 915.) The angel speaking "out of the altar" signifies the Lord's celestial kingdom, because "the angel of the waters" speaking, described in the fifth verse, means the Lord's spiritual kingdom (See above, n. 971). As the Lord's justice is here preached from the heavens, and as the heavens consist of two kingdoms, namely, the spiritual and the celestial, therefore there is preaching from each kingdom; and one is meant by "the angel of the waters," and the other by "the angel of the altar."

(Continuation respecting the Fifth Commandment)

[2] Take merchants as an example: All their works are evil works so long as they do not regard as sins, and thus shun as sins illegitimate gains and unlawful usury, also fraud and craft; for such works cannot be done from the Lord, but are done from man himself. And the more expert they are in skillfully and artfully contriving devices from within for overreaching their companions the more evil are their works. And the more expert they are in bringing such devices into effect under the pretense of sincerity, justice, and piety, the more evil still are their works. The more delight a merchant feels in such things the more do his works have their origin in hell. But if he acts sincerely and justly in order to acquire reputation, and wealth through reputation, even so as to seem to act from a love of sincerity and justice, and yet does not act sincerely and justly from affection for the Divine law or from obedience to it, he is still inwardly insincere and unjust, and his works are thefts, for through a pretense of sincerity and justice he seeks to steal.

[3] That this is so becomes evident after death, when man acts from his interior will and love, and not from the exterior; for then he thinks about and devises nothing but sharp practices and robberies, and withdraws himself from those who are sincere, and betakes himself either to forests or deserts, where he devotes himself to stratagems. In a word, all such become robbers. But it is otherwise with merchants who shun as sins thefts of every kind, especially the more interior and hidden, which are effected by craft and deceit. All their works are good, because they are from the Lord; for the influx from heaven, that is, through heaven from the Lord, for accomplishing such works is not intercepted by the evils just mentioned. To these, riches do no harm, because to them riches are means for uses. Their tradings are the uses by which they serve their country and their fellow-citizens; and through their riches they are in a condition to perform those uses to which the affection of good leads them.

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

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Apocalypse Explained #971

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971. Verse 5. And I heard the angel of the waters saying, signifies preaching of the Lord's justice from His spiritual kingdom. This is evident from the signification of "the angel of the waters," as being the Lord's spiritual kingdom; for "angel" signifies in the Word something pertaining to the Lord, also a heavenly society, also heaven; here "the angel of the waters" signifies the heavens of which the Lord's spiritual kingdom consists, for "waters" signify truths, thus things spiritual, since the Divine truth in the heavens is called spiritual, while the Divine good is called celestial. All the heavens are divided into two kingdoms, one called the spiritual kingdom, the other the celestial kingdom. The spiritual kingdom consists of the heavens and the angels there that are in the Divine truth, and those heavens are in the southern and northern quarters. The celestial kingdom consists of the heavens and the angels there that are in the Divine good, and these heavens are in the eastern and western quarters. Therefore the spiritual kingdom, which consists of the heavens and the angels there, that are in the Divine truth, is meant by "the angel of the waters;" while the celestial kingdom, which consists of the heavens and the angels there that are in the Divine good, is meant by "the angel from the altar" (described in the seventh verse of this chapter), since the "altar" signifies the Divine good. That "the angel of the waters" preached the Lord's justice is evident from the things said by that angel that now follow.

(Continuation respecting the Fifth Commandment)

[2] So far as man refrains from evils and shuns and turns away from them as sins, good flows in from the Lord. The good that flows in is the affection of knowing and understanding truths, and the affection of willing and doing goods. But man cannot refrain from evils by shunning and turning away from them of himself, for he himself is in evils from his birth, and thus from nature; and evils cannot of themselves shun evils, for this would be a like a man's shunning his own nature, which is impossible; consequently it must be the Lord, who is the Divine good and the Divine truth, who causes man to shun them. Nevertheless, man ought to shun evils as if of himself, for what a man does as if of himself becomes his and is appropriated to him as his own; while what he does not do as if of himself in no wise becomes his or is appropriated to him. What comes from the Lord to man must be received by man; and it cannot be received unless he is conscious of it, that is, as if of himself. This reciprocation is a necessity to reformation. This is why the ten commandments were given, and why it is commanded in them that man shall not worship other gods, shall not profane the name of God, shall not steal, shall not commit adultery, shall not kill, shall not covet the house, wife, or servants of others, thus that man shall refrain from doing these things by thinking, when the love of evil allures and incites, that they must not be done because they are sins against God, and in themselves are infernal. So far, therefore, as a man shuns these evils so far the love of truth and good enters from the Lord; and this love causes man to shun these evils, and at length to turn away from them as sins. And as the love of truth and good puts these evils to flight, it follows that man shuns them not from himself but from the Lord, since the love of truth and good is from the Lord. If a man shuns evils merely from a fear of hell they are withdrawn; but goods do not take their place; for as soon as the fear departs the evils return.

[3] To man alone is it granted to think as if of himself about good and evil, that is, that good must be loved and done because it is Divine and remains to eternity, and that evil must be hated and not done because it is devilish and remains to eternity. To think thus is not granted to any beast. A beast can do good and shun evil, yet not of itself, but either from instinct or habit or fear, and never from the thought that such a thing is a good or an evil, thus not of itself. Consequently one who would have it believed that man shuns evils or does goods not as if of himself but from an imperceptible influx, or from the imputation of the Lord's merit, would also have it believed that man lives like a beast without thought of, or perception of, or the affection of truth and good. That this is so has been made clear to me from manifold experience in the spiritual world. Every man after death is there prepared either for heaven or for hell. From the man who is prepared for heaven evils are removed, and from the man who is prepared for hell goods are removed; and all such removals are effected as if by them. Likewise those who do evils are driven by punishments to reject them as if of themselves; but if they do not reject them as if of themselves the punishments are of no avail. By this it was made clear that those who hang down their hands, waiting for influx, or for the imputation of the Lord's merit, continue in the state of their evil, and hang down their hands forever.

[4] To shun evils as sins is to shun the infernal societies that are in them, and man cannot shun these unless he repels them and turns away from them; and a man cannot turn away from them with repulsion unless he loves good and from that love does not will evil. For a man must either will evil or will good; and so far as he wills good he does not will evil; and it is granted him to will good when he makes the commandments of the Decalogue to be of his religion, and lives according to them.

[5] Since man must refrain from evils as sins as if of himself, these ten commandments were inscribed by the Lord on two tables, and these were called a covenant; and this covenant was entered into in the same way as it is usual to enter into covenants between two, that is, one proposes and the other accepts, and the one who accepts consents. If he does not consent the covenant is not established. To consent to this covenant is to think, will, and do as if of oneself. Man's thinking to shun evil and to do good as if of himself is done not by man, but by the Lord. This is done by the Lord for the sake of reciprocation and consequent conjunction; for the Lord's Divine love is such that it wills that what is its own shall be man's, and as these things cannot be man's, because they are Divine, it makes them to be as if they were man's. In this way reciprocal conjunction is effected, that is, that man is in the Lord and the Lord in man, according to the words of the Lord Himself in John (John 14:20); for this would not be possible if there were not in the conjunction something belonging as it were to man. What man does as if of himself he does as if of his will, of his affection, of his freedom, consequently of his life. Unless these were present on man's part, as if they were his there could be no receptivity, because nothing reactive, thus no covenant and no conjunction; in fact, no ground whatever for the imputation that man had done evil or good or had believed truth or falsity, thus that there is from merit a hell for anyone because of evil works, or from grace a heaven for anyone because of good works.

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