Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/127

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THE FALL OF MAN.

 

The Nature and Extent of Hereditary Evil.

Hereditary evil from the father is interior; and hereditary evil from the mother is exterior. The former cannot easily be eradicated, but the latter can be. When man is regenerated, the hereditary evil inrooted from the next parents is extirpated; but it remains with those who are not regenerated, or not capable of being regenerated. This then is hereditary evil. This is evident to every one who reflects; and further, from the fact that every family has some peculiar evil or good by which it is distinguished from other families; and it is known that this is from parents and ancestors. It is so in regard to the Jewish nation which remains at this day; which it is very manifest is distinct and may be known from other nations, not only by their peculiar genius, but also by their manners, speech, and countenance. But few know what hereditary evil is. It is believed to consist in doing evil; but it consists in willing and thence thinking evil. Hereditary evil is in the will itself, and thence in the thought, and is the very tendency which is within it; and even adjoins itself when a man does good. It is known by the delight which arises when evil befalls another. That root lies deeply hidden, for the very interior form recipient of good and truth from heaven, or through heaven from the Lord, is depraved, and so to speak, detorted; so that when good and truth flow in from the Lord they are either turned aside, perverted, or suffocated. Hence it is that there is no perception of good and truth at this day, but instead of it the regenerate conscience, which acknowledges as good and true what is learned from parents and masters. It is of hereditary evil to love self in preference to another; to will evil to another if he does not honour self; to perceive delight in revenge; also to love the world, and all the lusts or evil affections thence derived, more than heaven. Man does not know that such things are in him; and still less that such things are opposite to heavenly affections. But yet in the other life it is manifestly shown how much of hereditary evil every one has attracted to himself by actual life; also how much he has removed himself from heaven by evil affections from it. (A. C. n. 4317.)

Every man is born, of his parents, into the evils of the love of self and of the world. Every evil which by habit has as it were contracted a nature, is derived into the offspring; thus successively from parents, from grandfathers, and from great-grandfathers, in a long series backward. Hence the derivation of evil is at length become so great that all man's own life is nothing else but evil. This continued derived [evil] is not broken and altered except by a life of faith and charity from the Lord. (ib. n. 8550.)