A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg/12 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.)

Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/323 Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/324 Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/325 Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/326 Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/327 Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/328 Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/329 Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/330 Him. It may hence appear what in those miracles is meant by faith. The third reason was that all the diseases which the Lord healed represented and therefore signified the spiritual diseases corresponding to those natural diseases; and spiritual diseases can only be healed by the Lord, and indeed through looking up to His Divine omnipotence, and through repentance of life; and therefore He also said at different times, "Thy sins are remitted thee; go and sin no more." This faith too was represented and signified by that miraculous faith. But the faith by which spiritual diseases are healed by the Lord cannot be given otherwise than by truths from the Word and a life according to them; the very truths and life according to them constitute the nature of the faith; but upon this subject more will be said in what follows. ... When the disciples could not heal the lunatic, "Jesus said unto them, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you?" and Jesus healed him; and said to the disciples, that they could not heal him because of their unbelief (Matt. xvii. 14-20). "When Jesus came into His own country, ... and they were offended in Him, He said, A prophet is not without honour save in his own country, and in his own house. And He did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief" (Matt. xiii. 57, 58). The reason why the Lord called the disciples men of little faith when they could not do miracles in His name, and why He could not do miracles in His own country on account of their unbelief, was that although the disciples did indeed believe the Lord to be the Messiah or Christ and also the Son of God, and the Prophet of whom it was written in the Word, they did not yet believe Him to be very God Omnipotent, and that Jehovah the Father was in Him; and in so far as they believed Him to be a man and not at the same time God, His Divine, to which omnipotence belongs, could not become present with them by faith. For faith makes the Lord present, as was said above; but faith in Him as a man only, does not bring his Divine omnipotence present. This also is the reason why they cannot be saved in the world at this day who look to His Human and not at the same time to His Divine, as is the case with Socinians and Arians. It was for the same reason that the Lord could not do miracles in His own country; for there they had seen Him from infancy as another man, and could not therefore add to this idea the idea of His Divinity; and though the Lord is indeed present in man when this idea is not present, yet not with Divine omnipotence; for faith causes the Lord to be present in man according to the nature of the perception of Him. (A. E. n. 815.)

Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/332 Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/333 Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/334 Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/335 Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/336 Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/337 Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/338 Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/339 Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/340 Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/341 Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/342 from the Divine love, and exist from the Divine love by the Divine wisdom. Wherefore as was said before the one is of the other." There was a novitiate spirit with me, who hearing this asked whether it is the same with charity and faith, because charity is of affection, and faith is of thought. And the angel replied, "It is quite the same. Faith is nothing but the form of charity, just as speech is the form of sound; faith also is formed by charity, as speech is formed by sound. We in heaven know also the manner of formation, but there is not time to explain it here." He added, "By faith I mean spiritual faith, in which alone there is spirit and life from the Lord through charity; for this is spiritual, and by it faith becomes so. Faith therefore without charity is merely natural faith, and this faith is dead; it also conjoins itself with merely natural affection, which is no other than concupiscence." The angels spoke of these things spiritually; and spiritual language embraces thousands of things which natural language cannot express; and, what is wonderful, which cannot even fall into the ideas of natural thought. After the angels had conversed on these subjects they departed; and as they returned each to his own heaven there appeared stars about their heads; and as the distance from me increased they appeared again in chariots as before.

After these two angels were out of my sight I saw on the right a garden, in which were olives, fig trees, laurels, and palms, arranged in order according to correspondences. I looked thitherward and saw angels and spirits walking and talking together among the trees. And then one of the angelic spirits looked at me (they are called angelic spirits who are in the world of spirits preparing for heaven). He came to me from the garden and said, "If you will come with me into our paradise you will hear and see wonderful things?" And I went with him. And he then said to me, "These whom you see (for there were many) are all in the love of truth, and thence in the light of wisdom. There is also a palace here which we call the Temple of Wisdom. But no one can see it who believes himself to be very wise; still less one who believes himself to be wise enough; and least of all one who believes that he is wise from himself. The reason is that they are not in the reception of the light of heaven, from the love of genuine wisdom. It is genuine wisdom for a man to see from the light of heaven that what he knows, understands, and appropriates (sapit), is as little compared with what he does not know, understand, and appropriate, as a drop of water to the ocean; or scarcely anything. Every one who is in this paradisiacal garden, and from perception and sight within himself acknowledges that he has comparatively so little wisdom, sees that Temple of Wisdom; for the interior light in the mind of man enables him to see it, but not his exterior light without that. Now as I have often thought, and from knowledge, and then from perception, and at last from interior light have acknowledged that man has so little wisdom, lo, it was granted me to see that temple. As to form it was wonderful. It was very lofty above the ground, quadrangular, with walls of crystal, a gracefully curved roof of transparent jasper, and a foundation of various precious stones. The steps by which they ascended to it were of polished alabaster; at the sides of the steps there appeared, as it were, lions with whelps. And then I asked whether it was allowable to enter; and was told that it was. I therefore ascended; and when I entered I saw as it were cherubim flying under the roof, but presently vanishing. The floor upon which we walked was of cedar; and the whole temple, by the transparency of the roof and walls, was constructed for a form of light. The angelic spirit entered with me, and I related to him what I had heard from the two angels concerning love and wisdom, and concerning charity and faith; and he then said, "Did they not speak also of a third?" I answered, "What third?" He replied, "The good of use. Love and wisdom are nothing without the good of use. They are but ideal entities; nor do they become real until they exist in use. For love, wisdom, and use, are three things that cannot be separated; if they are separated neither is anything. Love is not anything without wisdom; but in wisdom it is formed to something. This something into which it is formed is use; therefore when love by wisdom is in use then it really is, because it actually exists. They are precisely like end, cause, and effect; the end is not anything unless through the cause it exists in an effect; if one of the three is dispersed the whole is dispersed and becomes as nothing. It is the same with charity, faith, and works. Charity is nothing without faith, neither is faith anything without charity, nor charity and faith without works; but in works they are something, and a something of the same nature as the use of the works. It is the same with affection, thought, and operation. And it is the same with the will, the understanding, and action; for the will without the understanding is like the eye without sight; and both without action are as a mind without a body. It may be clearly seen that it is so in this temple; because the light in which we are here is a light which enlightens the interiors of the mind. And geometry also teaches that there is nothing complete and perfect unless it is a trine; for a line is nothing unless it becomes a surface, nor is a surface anything unless it becomes a body; one therefore is drawn into another that they may exist, and they coexist in the third. As in this, so it is also in each and all created things, which Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/345

  1. See note p. 284.