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Profanations of Good and Truth
[This is taken from Emanuel Swedenborg's Spiritual Life and the Word of God.]
I. Goods and Truths and Their Opposites
The Divine good that goes forth from the Lord is united with His Divine truth, as heat from the sun is with light in the time of spring. But angels, who are recipients of the Divine good and Divine truth going forth from the Lord, are distinguished as celestial and spiritual. Those who receive more of the Lord’s Divine good than of His Divine truth are called celestial angels; because these constitute the kingdom of the Lord that is called the celestial kingdom. But the angels who receive more of the Lord’s Divine truth than of his Divine good are called spiritual angels, because of these the Lord’s spiritual kingdom consists. This makes clear that goods and truths have a twofold origin, namely, a celestial origin and a spiritual origin. Those goods and truths that are from a celestial origin are the goods and truths of love to the Lord; while those goods and truths that are from a spiritual origin are the goods and truths of love toward the neighbor. The difference is like that between higher and lower, or between inner and outer; thus like that between things that are in a higher or inner degree, and those that are in a lower or outer degree; and what this difference is can be seen from what has been said in the work on Heaven and Hell about the three degrees of the heavens, and thus of the angels and their intelligence and wisdom (H.H., n. 33, 34, 38, 39, 208, 209, 211, 435). (A.E., n. 1042.)
As the heavens are divided into two kingdoms, namely, into a celestial kingdom and a spiritual kingdom, so are the hells divided into two domains opposite to those kingdoms. The domain opposite to the celestial kingdom is called devilish, and the domain opposite to the spiritual kingdom is called infernal. These domains are distinguished in the Word by the names Devil and Satan. There are two domains in the hells, because the heavens and the hells are opposite to each other; and opposite must fully correspond to opposite that there may be equilibrium. For the springing forth and permanence of all things, both in the natural world and in the spiritual world, depend upon an exact equilibrium between two activities that are opposite; and when these act against each other manifestly, they act by forces, but when not manifestly they act by endeavors (canatus). By means of equilibriums all things in both worlds are preserved; without this all things would perish. In the spiritual world the equilibrium is between good from heaven and evil from hell; and thus between truth from heaven and falsity from hell. For the Lord arranges unceasingly that all kinds and species of good and truth in the heavens shall have opposite to them in the hells evils and falsities of kinds that correspond by opposition; thus goods and truths from a celestial origin have for their opposites evils and falsities that are called devilish; and in like manner goods and truths from a spiritual origin have for their opposites evils and falsities that are called infernal. The cause of these equilibriums is to be found in the fact that the same Divine goods and Divine truths that the angels in the heavens receive from the Lord, the spirits in the hells turn into evils and falsities. All angels, spirits, and men are kept by the Lord in equilibrium between good and evil, and thus between truth and falsity, in order that they may be in freedom; and thus may be led from evil to good and from falsity to truth easily and as if by themselves, although in fact they are led by the Lord. For the same reason they are led in freedom from good to evil, and from truth to falsity, and this, too, as if by themselves, although the leading is from hell. (A.E., n. 1043.)
Profanations are of many kinds. The most grievous kind is when one acknowledges and lives according to the truths and goods of the Word, of the church, and of worship, and afterward denies them and lives contrary to them, or even lives contrary to them and does not deny them. Such profanation effects a conjunction and coherence of good with falsity, and of truth with evil, and from this it comes to pass that man is at the same time in heaven and in hell; consequently, when heaven wills to have its own, and hell wills to have its own, and yet they cohere, they are both swept away, and thus the proper human life perishes, and the man becomes like a brute animal, continually delirious, and carried hither and thither by fantasy like a dragon in the air, and in his fantasy shreds and specks appear like giants and crowds, and a little platter like the universe; and so on.
As such have no longer any human life they are not called spirits, but something profane, nor are they called he or she, but it; and when they are seen in the light of heaven they appear like dried skeletons. But this kind of profanation is rare, since the Lord provides against a man’s entering into a belief in truth and a life of good unless he can be kept in them continually even to the end of his life. (A.E., n. 1047.)
It has been said that the most grievous kind of profanation is when the truths of the Word are acknowledged in faith and confirmed in the life, and man afterward recedes from faith and lives wickedly, or if he does not recede from faith he nevertheless lives wickedly. But one who is in faith and in a life according to it from childhood to youth, and afterward in adult age recedes from faith and from a life of faith, does not profane, for the reason that the faith of childhood is a faith of the memory, and is the master’s faith in the child; while the faith of adult age is a faith of the understanding, and thus a man’s own faith. This faith a man can profane if he recedes from it and lives contrary to it, but not the former. For nothing enters the life of a man and affects it except what comes into the understanding and from that into the will; and a man does not think from his own understanding and act from his own will until he arrives at adult age. Before that he has thought merely from knowledge and acted merely from obedience; and this does not make a part of his life, and therefore cannot be profaned.
In a word, whatever a man thinks, speaks, and does, from the understanding with the will favoring it, this belongs to his life or comes to be of his life; and if this is holy it is profaned by his receding. But the profanations of this kind are more or less grievous according to the quality of the truth and the consequent faith, and according to the quality of the good and the consequent life, and according to the quality of the withdrawal from these; and therefore there are many specific differences in this profanation. (A.E., n. 1049.)
Why the state of profaners after death is so horrible shall be disclosed. Man has two minds, a natural and a spiritual. The natural mind is opened to him by knowledges (scientiae et cognitiones) of truth and good, and the spiritual mind is opened by a life according to these; and this is effected in those who know, acknowledge, and believe the truths of the Word and live according to them. In others that mind is not opened. When the spiritual mind has been opened, the light of heaven, which is Divine truth, flows through it into the natural mind, and there arranges truths in a corresponding order. Therefore when a man passes over into a contrary state, and either in faith or life denies the truths of the Word that he has previously acknowledged, the things that are in the natural mind no longer correspond with those that are in the spiritual mind; consequently heaven with its light flows in through the spiritual mind into non-corresponding things, or into things opposite to those that correspond in the natural man; and from this a fantasy arises that is so direful that they seem to themselves to fly in the air like dragons, while shreds and specks appear to them like giants and crowds, and a little ball like the whole globe, and other like things. The reason of this is that they have heaven in the spiritual mind and hell in the natural mind, and when heaven, which is in the spiritual mind, acts into hell, which is in the natural mind, such things appear. And as this destroys all things pertaining to the understanding, and the will with the understanding, the man comes to be no longer a man. And this is why a profaner is no longer called a man, nor he or she, but it, for he is a brute. (A.E., n. 1050.)
This kind of profanation exists especially in those who acknowledge the Lord and His Divine, and the Word and its holiness; and for the reason that the Lord alone by means of truths from the Word opens heaven to the man who lives according to those truths; and unless heaven is opened such profanation is not possible. And this shows why the Gentiles, who are ignorant of the Lord and know nothing about the Word, cannot bring upon themselves such profanation; neither can the Jews, for they deny the Lord from their infancy, and heaven is not opened to them by means of the Word; neither can the impious who have been such from childhood; for, as has been said, those only profane who believe rightly and live rightly, and afterward believe wrongly and live wrongly. Besides this kind of profanation there are other kinds that shall be treated of. (A.E., n. 1051.)
There is another kind of profanation of holy things that those come into who have supremacy as their end, and regard the holy things of the Word, of the church, and of worship, as means. The Divine order is that heaven and the church, and consequently the holy things of these, be the end, and supremacy the means for promoting that end. For when holy things are the end and supremacy the means, the Lord is worshipped and adored; but when supremacy is the end and holy things the means, man instead of the Lord is worshipped and adored. For the means look to the end as servants look to their master, and the end looks to the means as a master looks to his servants; consequently as a master esteems and loves his servants according to the compliance they render to his will, so a man who has supremacy as his end esteems and loves the holy things of the Word, of the church, and of worship, according to the compliance they render to his end, which is supremacy. And on the other hand, as a lord despises and dismisses servants and takes others in their place when they are not subservient to his will, so a man who has supremacy as his end despises and rejects the holy things of the church, and takes other things in their place when they are not subservient to his end, which is supremacy.
From this it is clear that in those who have supremacy as their end, holy things are of no account except so far as they are subservient to the end, and also that they are not holy, but are profane when they are subservient to this end; and for the reason that the end, when it is supremacy, is the man himself, and as this end is love of self it is the man’s own (proprium); and man’s own when viewed in itself is nothing but evil, and indeed is profane, and the end joins to itself the means that they may be as one. In this kind of profanation are all those who are in sacred ministries, and who are seeking by means of the holy things of the church to gain honor and glory, and these and not use, which is the salvation of souls, are what give them joy of heart. (A.E., n. 1053.)
Those who are in this kind of profanation cannot do otherwise than adulterate the goods of the Word and falsify its truths, and thus pervert the holy things of the church; for these are not in accord with the end, which is the supremacy of man over them, for they are Divine things that cannot be mere servants; therefore from necessity, that the means may be in accord with the end, goods are turned into evils, truths into falsities, and thus holy things into things profane, and this in an increasing degree as the supremacy, which is the end, is increased.
That this is so can be clearly seen from the Babylon of the present day, to which the holy things of the Word, of the church and of worship, are means, and supremacy is the end. So far as they have magnified supremacy they have minimized the holiness of the Word, and have actually exalted above it the holiness of the Pope’s decrees; they have claimed to themselves power over heaven, and even over the Lord Himself, and they have instituted the idolatrous worship of men, both living and dead, and this until there is nothing left of Divine good and Divine truth.
That the holy things of the Word, of the church, and of worship, have been so changed is of the Lord’s Divine providence; not of His providence that this should be done, but of His providence that when men wish to rule and do rule by means of the holy Divine things, they should choose falsity in place of truth and evil in place of good, for otherwise they would defile holy things, and render them abominable before angels; but when holy things no longer exist this cannot be done. Take as an example what has been done with the Holy Supper instituted by the Lord: they have separated the bread and the wine, giving the bread to the people and drinking the wine themselves. For “bread” signifies good of love to the Lord, and “wine” the truth of faith in Him; and good separated from truth is not good, nor is truth separated from good truth, for truth is truth from good, and good is good in truth. And so in other things. (A.E., n. 1054.)
Those who are in the love of self, and from that in the love of ruling, and who covet, acquire, and afterward exercise supremacy by means of the holy things of the Word, of the church, and of worship, are those who profane. For the delight of the love of ruling for self’s sake, that is, for the sake of eminence, and consequent homage and a kind of worship of self, is an infernal delight. Moreover, this prevails in hell, for in hell everyone wills to be the greatest, while in heaven everyone wills to be the least; and to rule over holy things from an infernal delight is to profane them.
But this second kind of profanation of the holy things of the church is not like the former kind of the profanation of them. Those fall into the former kind in whom a communication with heaven has been effected by the opening of their spiritual mind; while this second kind of profanation those fall into in whom the spiritual mind has not been opened, or communication with heaven effected through it. For so long as the delight of the love of ruling resides in man, that mind cannot be opened, and communication with heaven is not possible to him.
Moreover, the lot of these profaners after death differs from the lot of the former. The former, as has been said, are in an unceasing delirium of fantasy; but these hate the Lord, hate heaven, hate the Word, hate the church, and hate all its holy things; and they come into such hatred because their dominion is taken away from them, and thus their state is changed into its opposite. They appear like something fiery, and their hell appears like a conflagration; for infernal fire is nothing else than a lust for ruling from love of self. These are among the worst, and are called devils, while the others are called satans. (A.E., n. 1055.)
The love of ruling by the holy things of the church as means wholly shuts up the interiors of the human mind from the inmosts toward the outmosts, according to the kind and strength of that love. But to make clear that they are shut up, something shall first be said about the interiors belonging to the human mind. Man has a spiritual mind, a rational mind, a natural mind, and a sensual mind. By means of the spiritual mind man is in heaven and is a heaven in its least form. By means of the natural mind he is in the world and is a world in its least form. Heaven in man communicates with the world in him by means of the rational mind, and with the body by means of the sensual mind. The sensual mind is the first to be opened in man after his birth; after that the natural mind, and as he seeks to become intelligent the rational mind, and as he seeks to become wise the spiritual mind. And at length, as man becomes wise the spiritual mind becomes to him as the head, and the natural mind as the body, and the rational mind serves as a neck to join this to the head, and then the sensual mind becomes like the sole of the foot.
In little children the Lord so arranges all these minds by means of the inflow of innocence from heaven that they can be opened. But with those who begin from childhood to be inflamed with the lust of ruling through the holy things of the church as means, the spiritual mind is wholly shut; so, too, is the rational mind, and finally the natural mind, even to the sensual mind, or as it is said in heaven, even to the nose. And thus men become merely sensual, and are the most stupid of all in things spiritual and thus in things rational, and the most crafty of all in worldly and thus in civil matters. That they are so stupid in spiritual things they do not themselves know, because in heart they do not believe these things, and because they believe craft to be prudence and cunning to be wisdom. And yet all of this kind differ according to the kind and strength of their lust for ruling and for exercising rule, also according to the kind and strength of the persuasion that they are holy, and according to the kind of good and truth from the Word that they profane. (A.E., n. 1056.)
Profaners of this kind are stupid and foolish in spiritual things, but are crafty and keen in worldly things, because they make one with the devils in hell, and because, as has been said above, they are merely sensual, and are therefore in what is their own (proprium), which draws its delight of life from the unclean effluvia that exhale from waste matters in the body, and that are emitted from dunghills; and these cause a swelling of their breasts when their pride is active and the titillation of these cause delight. That such is the source of their delight is made evident by their delights after death when they are living as spirits; for then more than the sweetest odors do they love the rank stenches arising from the gases of the belly and from outhouses, which to their smell are more fragrant than thyme. The approach and touch of these close up the interiors of their mind, and open the exteriors pertaining to the body, from which come their quickness in worldly things and their dullness in spiritual things.
In a word, the love of ruling by means of the holy things of the church corresponds to filth, and its delight to a stench indescribable by words, and at which angels shudder. Such is the exhalation from their hells when they are opened; but they are kept closed because of the oppression and occasional swooning which they produce. (A.E., n. 1057.)
In the third kind of profanation are those who with devout gestures and pious utterance worship Divine things, and yet in heart and spirit deny them; thus who venerate the holy things of the Word and of the church and of worship outwardly or before the world, and yet at home or in secret deride them. When those of this class are in a holy external, and are teaching in a church or conversing with the common people, they do not know otherwise than that what they are saying is so; but as soon as they return into themselves their thought is reversed. Because these are such they can counterfeit angels of light, although they are angels of darkness.
From this it is clear that this kind of profanation is a hypocritical kind. They are not unlike images made of filth and gilded, or like fruits rotten within but with a beautiful skin, or like nuts eaten by worms within but with a whole shell. From all this it is evident that their internal is diabolical, and therefore that their holy external is profane.
Such are some of the rulers in the Babylon of the present day, and many of a certain society in Babylon, as those of them know who claim to themselves dominion over the souls of men and over heaven. For to believe as they do, that power has been given them to save and to admit into heaven, is the very opposite of acknowledging in heart that there is a God, and for the reason that man, in order to be saved and admitted into heaven, must look to the Lord and pray to Him. But a man who believes that such power has been given him looks to himself, and believes the things that are the Lord’s to be in himself; and to believe this, and at the same time to believe that there is a God or that God is in him, is impossible. For a man to believe that God is in him when he thinks himself to be above the holy things of the church, and heaven to be in his power, is like ascribing that belief to Lucifer, who burns with the fire of ruling over all things. If such a man thinks that God is in him he cannot think this otherwise than from himself; and thinking from himself that God is in him is thinking not that God is in him, but that he himself is God, as is said of Lucifer in Isaiah (xiv. 13, 14), by whom is there meant Babylon, as is evident from the fourth and twenty-second verses of the same chapter.
Moreover, such a man of himself, when power is given him, shows forth what he is of himself, and this by degrees according to his elevation. From this it is clear that such are atheists, some avowedly, some clandestinely, and some ignorantly. And as they regard dominion as an end, and the holy things of heaven and the church as means, they counterfeit angels of light in face, gesture, and speech, and thus profane holy things. (A.E., n. 1058.)
Those who are in this kind of profanation, which is hypocritical, differ in this respect, that there are those who have less ability and those who have more ability to conceal the interiors of their mind, that they may not be disclosed, and to shape the exteriors, which pertain to face and mouth, into an expression of sanctity. When such after death become spirits they appear encompassed with a cloud, in the midst of which is something black, like an Egyptian mummy. But as they are raised up as it were into the light of heaven, that bright cloud changes to a diabolical duskiness, not from any shining through it, but from a breathing through it, and the consequent disclosing. In hell, therefore, these are black devils. The differences in this kind of profanation are known from the blackness, as being more or less horrifying. (A.E., n. 1059.)
A fourth kind of profanation is to live a life of piety, by frequenting churches, listening devoutly to preachings, observing the sacrament of the Supper, and the other appointed forms of worship, reading the Word at home, and sometimes books of devotion, and habitually praying morning and evening, and yet making the precepts of life that are in the Word, particularly in the Decalogue, of no account, by acting dishonestly and unjustly in business and in judgments for the sake of gain or influenced by friendship; committing whoredom and adultery when lust inflames and urges; burning with hate and revenge against those who do not favor their gain or honor; lying, and speaking evil of the good, and good of the evil, and so on. When a man is in these evils, and has not been purified from them by turning away from them and hating them, and still worships God devoutly, as has been said above, then he profanes; for he mingles his internals which are impure with externals that are pious, and these he defiles.
For there can be nothing external that does not proceed and have existence from internals. The actions and speech of man are his externals, and thoughts and volitions are his internals. Man can speak only from thought, and can act only from volition. When the life of the thoughts and of the will is infected with craft, cunning, and violence, it must needs be that these, as interior evils of the life, will flow into the speech and actions pertaining to worship and piety, and defile them as filth defiles waters.
This worship is what is meant by “Gog and Magog” (Apoc. xx. 8), and is thus described in Isaiah:
“What is the multitude of sacrifices unto Me, meat offerings, incense, sabbaths, new moons, appointed feasts, and prayers, when your hands are full of bloods? Wash you, make you clean, put away the wickedness of your doings . . . ; cease to do evil” (i. 11-19).
This kind of profanation is not hypocritical like the former, because the man who is in it believes that he will be saved by external worship separate from internal, and does not know that the worship by which he can be saved is external worship from internal. (A.E., n. 1061.)
Those who give themselves up wholly to a life of piety, who walk continually in pious meditations, who pray frequently upon their knees, and talk about salvation, faith, and love at all times and in all places, and yet do not shun frauds, adulteries, hatreds, blasphemies, and the like, as sins against God, nor fight against them, such are the kind that are more fully profaners; for by the impurities of their minds they defile the piety of their lips, especially when they renounce the world and lead solitary lives. Of this kind there are some who are still more profaners; these are like those just described, but by reasonings and by the Word falsely interpreted they defend their vices as adulteries and lusts that belong to their nature, and thus to their enjoyment. Such first regard themselves as free from danger, afterward as blameless, and at length as holy; and thus under the veil of sanctity they cast themselves into uncleannesses with which both themselves and their garments are polluted. (A.E., n. 1062.)
To this class of profaners those especially belong who read the Word and know about the Lord; because from the Lord through the Word are all things holy that can be profaned; things not from that source cannot be profaned. That is said to be profane that is the opposite of what is holy, and that offers violence to what is holy and destroys it. From this it follows that those who do not read the Word and do not approach the Lord, as is the case with the Papists, still less those who know nothing about the Lord and the Word, like the Gentiles, do not belong to this class of profaners.
Those who belong to this class of profaners appear after death at first with a face of human color, around which float many wandering stars; and those of them that had been leaders sometimes appear shining about the lips. But as they are brought into the light of heaven, the stars and the shining of the lips vanish, and the color of the face is changed to black, and likewise their garments. But the blackness of these profaners tends to blue, as the blackness of the other kind of profaners tends to red, for the reason that the latter profane the goods of the Word and of the church, while the others profane the truths of the Word and of the church. For red derives from the sun its signification of good, while blue derives from the sky its signification of truth. (A.E., n. 1063.)
The fifth kind of profanation is not like the others that have been treated of, for it consists in jesting from the Word and about the Word. For those who make jokes from the Word do not regard it as holy, and those who joke about it hold it in no esteem. And yet the Word is the very Divine truth of the Lord with men, and the Lord is present in the Word, and heaven also; for every particular of the Word communicates with heaven, and through heaven with the Lord; therefore to jest from the Word or about the Word is to bespatter the holy things of heaven with the dust of the earth. (A.E., n. 1064.)
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