A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg/12 Faith

 

FAITH.

 

What Faith is.

Faith is an internal acknowledgment of truth. . . . They have an internal acknowledgment of truth who are in spiritual affection for truth. As the angels are in such affection, they entirely reject the notion that the understanding must be under obedience to faith. For they say, "What is it to believe, and not see whether the thing is true?" And if any one says that it is nevertheless to be believed, they respond, "Dost thou think thyself a God, in whom I am to believe? or think me insane, that I am to believe a saying in which I do not see the truth? Make me then to see." And so the dogmatist withdraws. Angelic wisdom consists solely in the fact, that they see and comprehend what they think.

There is a spiritual intuition, of which few have any cognizance, which, with those who are in spiritual affection for truth, flows in and inwardly dictates that what is heard or read is true, or not true. They have this intuition who read the Word in illustration from the Lord. To be in illustration is nothing else than to be in the perception and thence in internal acknowledgment that this or that is true. These are they that are said to be "taught of Jehovah," in Isaiah liv. 13; John vi. 45; and of whom it is said in Jeremiah, "Behold, the days come, . . . that I will make a new covenant; . . . this shall be the covenant; . . . I will put My law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts: . . . and they shall no more teach every man his neighhour, and every man his brother, saying, Know ye Jehovah; for they shall all know Me" (xxxi. 31, 33, 34).

From these considerations it is plain that faith and truth are one; and therefore the ancients, who, more than we, were in thought from affection concerning truths, spoke of truth instead of faith. Hence also it is that in the Hebrew language truth and faith are one word, which is Amuna, or Amen. (F. n. 1, 4–6.)

The angels who are in celestial love will not hear anything of faith, saying, "What is faith? Is it not wisdom? And what is charity? Is it not to do?" And when they are told that faith consists in believing what is not understood they turn away, saying, "He is out of his senses." It is these who are in the third heaven, and are the wisest of all. Such have they become who in the world applied the Divine truths which they heard immediately to the life, turning away from evils as infernal, and worshipping the Lord alone.

The angels also who are in spiritual love do not know what faith is. If it be mentioned they understand truth, and if charity be mentioned they understand doing the truth; and when they are told they must believe they call it a vain saying, and add, "Who does not believe truth?" They say this because in the light of their heaven they see truth; and to believe what they do not see they call either simplicity or foolishness. (D. L. W. n. 427, 428.)

The veriest faith, which saves, is trust; but there can never be this trust save in the good of life. Without the good of life there is no reception; and where there is no reception there is no trust,—unless sometimes a certain apparent trust, in disordered states of mind or body, when the lusts of the love of self and of the world are quiescent. But with those who are in evil of life, when this crisis passes or is changed, this deceptive trust entirely vanishes. For there is a trust even with the wicked. But he who would know the quality of his trust, let him examine within himself his affections, and ends, as well as the actions of his life. (A. C. n. 2982.)

 

The Essence of Faith is Charity.

It should be known that charity and faith form one, as the will and understanding; because charity belongs to the will, and faith to the understanding. In like manner charity and faith form one like affection and thought; because affection belongs to the will, and thought to the understanding. So again charity and faith form one like good and truth; because good has relation to affection which belongs to the will, and truth has relation to thought which belongs to the understanding. In a word, charity and faith constitute one like essence and form; for the essence of faith is charity, and the form of charity is faith. Hence it is evident that faith without charity is like a form without an essence, which is nothing; and that charity without faith is like an essence without a form, which likewise is nothing.

It is with charity and faith in man just as with the motion of the heart, which is called its systole and diastole, and the motion of the lungs, which is called respiration. There is also an entire correspondence of these with the will and understanding of man, and of course with charity and faith; for which reason the will and its affection are meant by the heart when mentioned in the Word, and the understanding and its thought by the soul, and also by the spirit. Hence, to yield the breath (or soul) is to retain animation no longer; and to give up the ghost (or spirit) is to respire no longer. Hence it follows that there can be no faith without charity, nor charity without faith; and that faith without charity is like respiration of the lungs without a heart, which cannot take place in any living thing, but only in an automaton; and that charity without faith is like a heart without lungs, in which case there can be no sense of life; consequently, that charity accomplishes uses by faith, as the heart by the lungs accomplishes actions. So great indeed is the similitude between the heart and charity, and between the lungs and faith, that in the spiritual world it is known by a person's breathing what is the nature of his faith, and by his pulse what is the nature of his charity. For angels and spirits as well as men live by the pulsation of the heart and by respiration; hence it is that they, as well as men in this world, feel, think, act, and speak. (F. n. 18, 19.)

There are many who have not an internal acknowledgment of truth, and yet have the faith of charity. They are such as have had respect to the Lord in their life, and from a principle of religion have avoided evils, but who have been kept from thinking of truths by cares and business in the world, and also from a want of truth in their teachers. Yet interiorly or in their spirit, these are in the acknowledgment of truth, because they are in the affection of it; and therefore after death, when they become spirits and are instructed by the angels, they acknowledge truths and receive them with joy. But it is otherwise with those who in their life have not looked to the Lord, and have not avoided evils from a principle of religion. These inwardly or in their spirit are not in any affection of truth, and consequently are not in any acknowledgment of it; after death therefore, when they become spirits and are instructed by the angels, they are unwilling to acknowledge truths, and of course do not receive them. For evil that is of the life interiorly hates truths; but good that is of the life interiorly loves truths. (ib. n. 30.)

 

Cognitions[1] of Truth and Good are not of Faith until a Man is ni Charity.

The cognitions of truth and good which precede faith appear to some as if they were of faith; and yet they are not. Men do not therefore believe because they think and say they believe. And these [truths] are not of faith; for it is only cognized that they are so, and not internally acknowledged that they are truths. And faith that they are truths while it is not known that they are, is a species of persuasion remote from internal acknowledgment. But as soon as charity is implanted they become cognitions of faith, yet only so far as there is charity within it. (F. n. 31.)

 

The Truths of Faith are first in Time, but Charity is first in End.

Faith, by which also truth is meant, is first in time; and charity, by which good also is meant, is first in end. And that which is first in end is actually the first, because it is primary, and so is also the first-born; but that which is first in time is not actually first, but apparently. But that this may be comprehended it shall be illustrated by comparisons; as with the creation of a temple, and of a house, the formation of a garden, and the preparation of a field. In the erection of a temple, the first thing in point of time is to lay the foundation, to build the walls, to put on the roof, and then to put in the altar, and rear the pulpit; but the first thing in end for the sake of which these things are done is the worship of God in it. In the building of a house, the first thing in time is to build its outer parts, and to furnish it with various articles of necessity; but the first thing in end is a suitable dwelling for one's self and for the others who shall be in the house. In the formation of a garden, the first thing in time is to level the ground, and prepare the soil, and plant trees, and sow the seeds of such things as will be of use; but the first thing in end is the use of their fruits. In the preparation of a field, the first thing in time is to clear the land, to plough, to harrow, and then to sow the seeds; but the first thing in end is the harvest, and so also the use. From these comparisons any one may conclude which in itself is first; for does not every one, when he would build a temple or a house, or make a garden or cultivate a field, first purpose a use, and constantly keep and turn this over in his mind while he is procuring the means to it? We conclude then that the truth of faith is first in time, but that the good of charity is first in end; and that this therefore because it is primary is actually the first-begotten in the mind. (T. C. R. n. 336.)

 

Faith never becomes Faith till the Truths of it are willed and done.

All the things of faith which are signified by the first-born of sons are those which are from the good of charity; for faith exists from this good. For truths, whether taken from the Word or from the doctrine of the church, can in no wise become truths of faith unless there be good in which they may be implanted. The reason is that the intellectual [faculty] is what first receives truths, since it sees them and introduces them to the will; and when they are in the will they are in the man, for the will is the man himself. He therefore who supposes that faith is faith with man before he wills these truths, and from willing does them, is exceedingly deceived; the very truths of faith have no life before. All that is of the will is called good, because it is loved; and so truth becomes good, or faith becomes charity, in the will. . . . That the man of the church has been in obscurity on these subjects is because he has not perceived that all things in the universe relate to truth and good, and that they must have relation to both in order that anything may exist; and has not perceived that in man there are two faculties, the understanding and the will, and that truth has relation to the understanding and good to the will, and that if there is not the relation to each nothing is appropriated to man. Inasmuch as these things have been in obscurity, and yet the ideas of man's thought are founded on such things [according to his conception of them] therefore the error could not be made manifest to the natural man. And yet if it had once been made manifest the man of the church would have seen as in clear light from the Word, that the Lord Himself has spoken innumerable things of the good of charity, and that this is the chief thing of the church; and that faith is nowhere but in that good. The good of charity consists in doing good from purposing good. (A. C. n. 9224.)

 

In so far as any one shuns Evils as Sins he has Faith.

Evil which is of the life destroys the truth of faith; because evil of life belongs to the will and the truth of faith to the understandinc; and the will leads the understanding and causes it to act in unity with itself. If therefore there be any truth in the understanding which does not agree with the will, when a man is FAITH. ' 219 left to himself, or thinks under the influence of his evil and the love of it, he either casts out such truth, or by falsification forces it into unity. It is otherwise with those who are in good which is of the life; for when left to themselves they think under the influence of good, and love the truth which is in the understanding because it agrees therewith. Thus a conjunction of faith and of life is effected like the conjunction of truth and good, each resembling the conjunction of the understanding and the will.

Hence then it follows that in the degree that a man shuns evils as sins, in the same degree he has faith, because in the same degree he is in good. This is confirmed also by its contrary, that whosoever does not shun evils as sins has not faith, because he is in evil and evil has an inward hatred against truth. Outwardly indeed it can put on a friendly appearance, and endure, yea love that truth should be in the understanding; but when the outward is put off, as is the case after death, the truth which was thus for worldly reasons received in a friendly manner is first cast off, afterwards is denied to be truth, and finally is held in aversion. (Life, n. 44, 45.)

Faith is the first Principle of the Church in appearance, BUT Charity is actually the first.

There are two things which constitute the church; namely, charity and faith. Charity is of affection, and faith is of thought thence derived. The very essence of the thought is the affection; for without an affection no one can think, everything of life which is in the thought being from affection. It is therefore evident that the first principle of the church is affection, which is of charity or love; and the reason why faith is called the first principle of the church is because it first appears. For what a man believes, that he thinks and in thought sees; while that by which a man is spiritually affected he does not think, nor therefore see it in thought, but he perceives it by a certain sense which has no reference to sight, but to another sensitive principle which is called the sensitive principle of delight. And since this delight is spiritual and above the sense of natural delight, man does not perceive it except when he has become spiritual, that is when he is regenerated by the Lord. Hence it is that those things which belong to faith, and so to sight, are believed to be the first things of the church, although they are so only in appearance. This therefore is called the beginning of the creation of God (Rev. iii. 14), because in the letter, the Word is written according to the appearance. For the appearance in the letter is for the simple; but spiritual men like the angels are Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/316 Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/317 Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/318 Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/319 Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/320 Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/321 that unless they do this they will mix holy things with profane, and cast themselves into eternal damnation; yea, in England, that unless they do this the devil will enter into them, as he entered into Judas, and destroy them as to body and soul. It is evident from this that in the churches where faith alone is received, every one yet is taught that evils are to be shunned as sins. Further, every one who is born a Christian knows that evils are to be shunned as sins, from the fact too that the decalogue is put into the hands of every boy and every girl, and is taught by parents and masters. And all the citizens of the kingdom, especially the common people, are examined by the priest out of the decalogue alone, repeated from memory, as to what they know of the Christian religion; and they are also admonished that they should do the things which it contains. It is never said then by any bishop that they are not under the yoke of that law, nor that they cannot do those things because there is no good from themselves. The Athanasian Creed is also received in the whole Christian world, and that also which is last said in it is acknowledged, that the Lord will come to judge the living and the dead, and then they that have done good will enter into eternal life, and they that have done evil into eternal fire. In Sweden, where the religion of faith alone is received, it is also taught openly that there is no faith separate from charity, or without good works. This is inserted in a kind of admonitory Appendix to all the books of Psalms, which is called Hindrances or Stumbling-blocks of the Impenitent (Obotferdigas Foerhinder), wherein are these words: "They who are rich in good works show thereby that they are rich in faith; since when faith is saving it operates by charity; for justifying faith never exists alone and separate from good works, as a good tree does not exist without fruit, nor the sun without light and heat, nor water without moisture" These few facts are adduced to show that although the religion of faith alone is received, yet the goods of charity which are good works are everywhere taught, and that this is of the Lord's Divine Providence, lest the common people should be misled by it. I have heard Luther (with whom I have several times spoken in the spiritual world) execrate faith alone, and say that when he established it he was admonished by an angel of the Lord not to do it; but that he thought within him that if he did not reject works a separation from the Catholic religion would not be effected. Contrary therefore to the admonition he confirmed that faith. (D. P. n. 258.)

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  1. See note p. 284.