Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/218

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taken for naked truths from the Word, and that when confirmed they become falsities, is evident from the many heresies there have been, and are still in Christendom. Heresies themselves do not condemn men, but an evil life with confirmations of the falsities which are in heresy, from the Word and by reasonings from the natural man, condemn. For every one is born into the religion of his parents, from infancy is initiated into it, and afterwards retains it; nor is he able of his own power, on account of his occupations in the world, to extricate himself from its falsities. But to live wickedly, and to confirm falsities to the destruction of genuine truths, this condemns. For he who remains in his religion and believes in God,—and if within the pale of Christianity believes in the Lord, esteems the Word holy, and from a religious motive lives according to the commandments of the Decalogue, does not bind himself in falsities; and therefore when he hears truths and in his own way perceives them, he can embrace them, and so be withdrawn from falsities. But not so he who has confirmed the falsities of his religion; because falsity confirmed remains, and cannot be extirpated. For falsity after confirmation is as if a man were sworn in it,—especially if it coheres with the love of what is his own, and hence with the pride of his own wisdom. (S. S. n. 91, 92.)

The nature of the power of persuading and of confirming any heresy whatsoever out of the Word is known in the Christian world from the prevalence of so many heresies, every one of which is confirmed and so made persuasive from the literal sense of the Word. The reason is that the literal sense of the Word is accommodated to the apprehension of the simple, and therefore consists in great part of appearances of truth, and appearances of truth are of such a nature that they may be brought to confirm everything that is assumed by anyone as a principle of religion, and thence of doctrine, thus even what is false. On this account they who place genuine truth itself in the literal sense of the Word only may fall into many mistakes, if they are not in enlightenment from the Lord and in that enlightenment form doctrine for themselves, which may serve as a lamp to guide them. In the literal sense of the Word there are both naked truths and truths clothed; the latter are appearances of truth, and the appearances cannot otherwise be understood than from those places where naked truths stand forth, from which doctrine may be formed by one enlightened by the Lord, and the rest explained according to it. Hence it is that they who read the Word without doctrine are carried away into manifold errors. (A. E. n. 816.)

No one can know the Divine truths in the literal sense of the Word except by means of doctrine therefrom. If a man has not doctrine for a lamp he is carried away into errors, whithersoever the