Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/151

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THE DOCTRINE OF THE LORD.

 

The Use of the Lord's Temptations.

Good cannot be conjoined with truth in the natural man without combats, or what is the same without temptations. But that it may be known how the case is in respect to man, it must be briefly stated:—Man is nothing but an organ, or vessel, which receives life from the Lord; for man does not live of himself. The life which flows in with man from the Lord is from His Divine love. This love, or the life thence, flows in and applies itself to the vessels which are in man's rational [part], and which are in his natural. These vessels in man are in a contrary position with respect to the influent life, in consequence of the hereditary evil into which man is born, and of the actual evil which be himself acquires. But as far as the influent life can dispose the vessels to receive it it does so dispose them. . . . Good itself, which has life from the Lord, or which is life, is what flows in and disposes. When therefore these vessels, which are variable as to forms, are as was said in a contrary position and direction in respect to this life, it is evident that they must be reduced to a position in accordance with the life, or in compliance with it. This can in no wise be effected so long as man is in the state into which he is born and into which he has reduced himself; for the vessels do not yield, because they are obstinately resistant and opposed to heavenly order, according to which the life acts. For the good that moves them, and to which they are compliant, is of the love of self and the world; which good, from the gross heat that is in it, makes them such. Therefore, before they can be rendered compliant, and be made fit to receive anything of the life of the Lord's love, they must be softened. This softening is effected by no other means than by temptations; for temptations remove those things which are of self-love, and contempt of others in comparison with one's self, consequently which are of self-glory, as well as of hatred and revenge on account of them. When therefore the vessels are somewhat tempered and subdued by temptations, they begin to become yielding to and compliant with the life of the Lord's love, which continually flows into man. Hence it is that good now begins to be conjoined to truths, first in the ratioual man, and afterwards in the natural. . . . This is the reason why man is regenerated, that is made new, by temptations, or what is the same, by spiritual combats, and that he is afterwards gifted with another disposition, being made mild, humble, simple, and contrite in heart. From these considerations it may now be seen what use temptations effect; namely, that good from the Lord can not only flow in, but also dispose the vessels to obedience, and so conjoin itself with them. . . . But as regards the Lord,