LOVE AND THE SELF: Faith

No one knows what faith is in its essence who does not know what goodwill is, because where there is no goodwill there is no faith. This is because goodwill is just as inseparable from faith as goodness is from truth. That is, what we love or really care about is what we regard as good, and what we believe in is what we regard as true. We can therefore see that the oneness of goodwill and faith is like the oneness of what is good and what is true.

The oneness of goodwill and faith is also like the oneness of our will and understanding. These are, after all, the two capacities that take in what is good and what is true, our will taking in what is good and our understanding what is true. So, too, these two capacities take in goodwill and faith, because goodness is a matter of goodwill and truth is a matter of faith. No one is ignorant of the fact that goodwill and faith are associated with us and are in us, and since they are associated with us and in us the only place they can exist within us is in our will and our understanding. Our whole life resides there and comes forth from there. We do have memory as well, but that is only a waiting room where things gather that are going to enter our understanding and will. We can see, then, that the oneness of goodwill and faith is like the oneness of will and understanding.

Goodwill unites with faith for us when we will to do what we know and sense. Willing is a matter of goodwill, and knowing and sensing are matters of faith. Faith moves into us and becomes part of us when we both will to do and love what we know and sense. Until that happens, it is outside us.

Faith is not faith for us until it becomes spiritual, and it does not become spiritual unless it becomes a matter of love. It becomes a matter of love when we love to live out what is true and good—that is, to live by what we are commanded in the Word.

Faith consists of being moved by what is true because we want to do what is true simply because it is true; and wanting to do what is true simply because it is true is our actual spiritual nature. That is, it is detached from our earthly nature, which is willing to do what is true not because it is true but for the sake of praise or fame or profit for ourselves. Truth detached from such concerns is spiritual because it comes from the Divine. Whatever comes from the Divine is spiritual, and this is united to us through love because love is spiritual union.

We can know and think and understand a great deal, but when we are left to the privacy of our own thoughts we discard anything that is not in harmony with our love. This means also that we discard such things after our physical lives, when we are in the spirit, since the only things that are left to us once we are in the spirit are the things that have entered into our love. After death all the rest strikes us as foreign matter that we throw out of the house because it is not part of our love. I have said “in the spirit” because we live as spirits after death.

We can form some image of the good that goodwill does and the truth that faith discloses if we think in terms of the warmth and light of the sun. When the light that radiates from the sun is united to warmth, as is the case in spring- and summertime, then everything on earth sprouts and blossoms. When there is no warmth in the light, though, as is the case in wintertime, then everything on earth becomes dormant and dies. Spiritual light is the truth that faith discloses, and spiritual warmth is love.

This enables us to form an image of what people of the church are like when faith is united to goodwill in them. They are just like a garden or park. Their image when faith is not united to goodwill in them is like that of a wasteland and a land buried in snow.

from Regeneration, Pages 16-18

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