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 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 s

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 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.

from Regeneration, Pages 16-17

3. What an earthly-minded person is like whose spiritual level has not been opened but is not yet closed.

The spiritual level is not opened in us but is still not closed when we are leading a life that involves some goodwill but do not know very much real truth. This is because that level is opened by a union of love and wisdom, or of warmth and light. Love alone, or spiritual warmth alone, will not do it, and neither will wisdom alone or spiritual light alone. It takes both together. So if we do not know the real truths that constitute wisdom or light, love cannot manage to open that level. All it can do is keep it able to be opened, which is what “not being closed” means. The same holds true for plant life. Warmth alone will not make seeds sprout or trees leaf out. Warmth together with light is what does it.

We need to realize that everything true is a matter of spiritual light and that everything good is a matter of spiritual warmth, and that what is good opens the spiritual level by means of true things, since goodness does what is helpful by means of truths. Helpful acts are the good that love does, deriving their essence from the union of what is good and what is true.

What happens after death to people whose spiritual level is not opened but still not closed is that since they are still earthly-minded and not spiritual-minded, they are in the lowest parts of heaven, where they sometimes have a hard time of it. Alternatively, they may be around the edges of a somewhat higher heaven, where they live in a kind of twilight. This is because in heaven and in each distinct community the light decreases from the center to the circumference, and the people who are especially engaged with divine truths are in the middle, while the people who are only slightly engaged in truths are at the borders. People are only slightly engaged with truths if all they have learned from their religion is that God exists, that the Lord suffered for their sake, and that goodwill and faith are the essential qualities of the church, without making any effort to find out what faith is and what goodwill is. Yet essentially, faith is truth, and truth is complex, while goodwill can be defined as every duty we fulfill because of the Lord. We do things because of the Lord when we abstain from evils as sins.

This is just what I have already said. The purpose is the whole substance of the means, and the purpose through the means is the whole substance of the result. The purpose is thoughtful action, or some good, the means is faith, or something true, and the results are good deeds or acts of service. We can see from this that nothing of goodwill can be instilled into our deeds except to the extent that our goodwill is united to those truths that we attribute to faith. They are the means by which goodwill enters into works and gives them their quality.

from Regeneration, Pages 107-108

THE LORD ALONE CREATES US ANEW

The sections on goodwill and faith have already shown that the Lord carries out the process of regenerating us by means of goodwill and faith. . . . Both of these things, goodwill and faith, I call means because they forge our partnership with the Lord. Together they ensure that our goodwill is real goodwill and that our faith is real faith. The process of our regeneration cannot occur without our having some part to play in it.

In preceding chapters, our cooperation with the Lord has come up several times; it will be illustrated again here, however, because the human mind is by nature unable to rid itself of the sensation that it carries out this process under its own power.

In every motion and every action there is an element that is active and another element that is responsive. The active element acts, and then the responsive element acts in response. As a result, a single action comes forth from the two elements. A mill is activated in this manner by a waterwheel; a carriage by a horse; a motion by a force; an effect by a cause; a dead force by a living force; and in general an instrumental cause by a principal cause. Everyone knows that each pair together completes a single action.

In the case of goodwill and faith, the Lord acts, and we act in response. There is an activity of the Lord that prompts our human response. The power to do good things comes from the Lord. As a result, there is a will to act that seems to be our own, because we have free choice. Either we can take action together with the Lord and by doing so, form a partnership with him; or else we can take action drawing on the power of hell, which is outside the Lord, and by doing so, separate ourselves from him. Actions of ours that are in harmony with the Lord’s actions are what I mean here by “cooperation.” To make this even clearer, it will be illustrated with comparisons below.

It follows from this that the Lord is constantly active in regenerating us. He is constantly active in saving us, and no one can be saved without being regenerated, as the Lord himself says in John: “Those who are not born again cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3, 5, 6). Regeneration is therefore the means of being saved; and goodwill and faith are the means of being regenerated.

The notion that we are regenerated as a consequence of simply having the faith that is preached by the church of today—a faith that involves no cooperation on our part—is the height of foolishness.

The kind of action and cooperation just described is visible in action and movement of all types. The interaction between the heart and all its arteries is an example. The heart acts and the arteries use their sheaths and linings to cooperate; this results in circulation. A similar thing happens with the lungs. The air pressure, which depends on the height of the atmosphere above it, acts upon the lungs; the lungs work the ribs, which is immediately followed by the ribs working the lungs. This breathing motion affects every membrane in the body. The meninges of the brain, the pleura, the peritoneum, the diaphragm, and all the other membranes that cover the internal organs and inwardly hold them together, act and react and cooperate in this way, because they are flexible. Together these movements provide for our continued existence.

A similar thing happens in every fiber and nerve and in every muscle. In fact it even occurs in every piece of cartilage. It is well documented that in each of these there is an [initiating] action and then a cooperation.

Such cooperation also exists in all our bodily senses. Just like the motor organs, the sensory organs consist of fibers, membranes, and muscles; but there is no need to describe the cooperation of each one. It is well known that light acts upon the eye, sound upon the ear, odor upon the nose, taste upon the tongue; and that the organs adapt themselves to that input, which results in sensation.

Surely everyone can see from these examples that thought and will could not exist unless there was a similar action and cooperation between life as it inflows and the spiritual organic structure underlying our brain. Life flows from the Lord into that organic structure. Because the organic structure cooperates, it perceives what it is thinking. Likewise it perceives what is under consideration there, what conclusion is formed, and what action it has decided to take. If the life force alone took action but we did not cooperate (seemingly on our own), our ability to think would not exceed a log’s. We would have no more thought than a church building does when a minister is preaching; the church can indeed feel the reverberation of sound coming through the double doors as an echo, but it cannot appreciate anything about the sermon. We would be no different if we did not cooperate with the Lord in developing goodwill and faith.

What we would be like if we did not cooperate with the Lord can be further illustrated with the following comparisons. If we perceived or sensed anything spiritual related to heaven or the church, it would strike us as something hostile or disagreeable flowing in, the way our nose would react to a rotten smell, our ear would react to a dissonant sound, our eye would react to a hideous sight, or our tongue would react to something disgusting.

If the delight associated with goodwill and the enjoyment associated with faith were to flow into the spiritual organic structure of the mind of people who take delight in evil and falsity, such people would feel terrible pain and torment until they eventually collapsed in unconsciousness. The spiritual organic structure consists of long strands in helixes; under that circumstance in people of that type, it would wrap itself in coils and would be tormented like a snake on a swarm of ants. The truth of this has been fully demonstrated to me in the spiritual world through an abundance of experiences. . . .

from Regeneration, pages 50-53

REPENTANCE

Now that faith, goodwill, and free choice have been treated, the related topic of repentance comes next, because without repentance there can be no true faith and no genuine goodwill, and no one could repent without free choice. Another reason why there is a treatment of repentance at this point is that the topic that follows is regeneration, and none of us can be regenerated before the more serious evils that make us detestable before God have been removed; repentance is what removes them.

What else are unregenerate people but impenitent? And what else are impenitent people but those who are in a drowsy state of apathy? They know nothing about sin and therefore cherish it deep within themselves and make love to it every day the way an adulterous man makes love to a promiscuous woman who shares his bed.

To make known what repentance is and what effect it has, this treatment of it will be divided into separate headings.

from Regeneration, page 23

Notes: This section was first published 6/29/2016

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

LOVE AND THE SELF:Love for Our Neighbor, or Good will (Continued)

It is the goal that tells how we need to be our own neighbors and look after ourselves first. If the goal is to become richer than others solely for the sake of wealth or for pleasure or eminence or anything like that, it is a bad goal. We are loving ourselves, not our neighbor. If, however, the goal is to acquire wealth in order to be fit to be of service to our fellow citizens, our human community, our country, and our church, this is like seeking office for a like purpose, and we are loving our neighbor.

The actual goal of our actions makes us the people that we are because the goal is our love. For everyone, our first and final goal is what we love above all.

All this is about our neighbor. Now I need to discuss love for our neighbor, or goodwill.

Many people believe that love for their neighbor consists of giving to the poor, providing resources to the needy, and doing good to just anyone. Goodwill, though, is acting prudently and with the intent of having a good result. If we provide resources to malefactors who are poor or needy, we are doing harm to our neighbors by providing those resources, because those resources strengthen the malefactors in their evil and supply them with the means of harming others. It is different when we supply resources to good people.

Goodwill, though, reaches out far beyond the poor and needy. Goodwill is doing what is right in everything we do, doing our duty in every position of responsibility. A judge who does what is fair for the sake of fairness is engaged in goodwill. Judges who punish the guilty and acquit the innocent are engaged in goodwill because in doing so they are taking care of their fellow citizens and taking care of their country.

Priests who teach the truth and lead people toward goodness for the sake of what is true and good are engaged in goodwill.

If they do these things for the sake of themselves or for worldly purposes, though, they are not engaged in goodwill, because they are loving themselves rather than their neighbor.

It is the same for others whether they hold some office or not—children toward their parents, for example, and parents toward their children, servants toward their employers and employers toward their servants, subjects toward their monarch and monarchs toward their subjects. If they do their duty for the sake of duty and do what is fair for the sake of fairness, they are engaged in goodwill.

The reason this is a matter of love for our neighbor or goodwill is that everyone is our neighbor, as just noted, but in various ways. A smaller or larger community is more of a neighbor, the country is still more of a neighbor, the Lord’s kingdom still more, and the Lord is the neighbor above all. In the broadest sense the goodness that comes from the Lord is our neighbor, which means that what is honest and fair is as well. So people who do anything good because it is good and who do what is honest and fair because it is honest and fair are loving their neighbor and practicing goodwill. This is because their actions are prompted by a love of what is good, honest, and fair and therefore by a love for people in whom we find what is good, honest, and fair.

Goodwill, then, is an inner motivation that makes us want to do what is good and to do this without reward. Doing this is the joy of our life.

When we are doing good from an inner impulse there is goodwill in the very details of what we are thinking and saying, what we are intending and doing. We might say that with respect to our deeper natures, both we and angels are goodwill [itself] when what is good is our neighbor.

This shows how very far goodwill extends.

If people have love for themselves and the world as their goal, there is no way they can be focused on goodwill. They do not even know what goodwill is; and they completely fail to grasp the fact that intending and doing good for their neighbor without looking for payment is a heaven inside them—that inherent in this impulse there is just as much happiness as heaven’s angels have: more than words can convey. This is because people who selfishly love themselves and the world believe that if they were deprived of the joy they take in their display of prestige and wealth they would no longer have any joy at all, when in fact that would be the beginning of an infinitely transcendent heavenly joy. . . .

from Regeneration, Pages 14-16

LOVE AND SELF: Love for Our Neighbor, or Goodwill

First of all, I need to define “neighbor.” After all, this is the one we are called upon to love and the one toward whom we are to extend our goodwill. You see, unless we know what “neighbor” means, we may extend goodwill in basically the same manner indiscriminately—just as much to evil people as to good ones, then, so that our goodwill is not really goodwill. That is, evil people use their generosity to do harm to their neighbor, while good people do good.

Most people nowadays think that everyone is equally their neighbor and that they should be generous to anyone who is in need. It is a matter of Christian prudence, though, to check carefully what a person’s life is like and to extend goodwill accordingly. When we are devoted to the inner church we do this discriminatingly and therefore intelligently; but when we are devoted to the outer church we act indiscriminately because we are not capable of making distinctions like this.

The different kinds of neighbor that church people really should be aware of depend on the good that any particular individual is engaged in. Since everything good comes from the Lord, the Lord is our neighbor in the highest sense and to the utmost degree, the neighbor as the source [of all good]. It therefore follows that people are neighbors to us to the extent that they have the Lord in themselves; and since no two people accept the Lord (that is, the good that comes from him) in the same way, no two people are our neighbor in the same way. As to what is good, all the people in the heavens and all good people on earth are different. It never happens that exactly the same goodness is found in any two individuals. The goodness needs to vary so that each kind of goodness can stand on its own.

However, none of us can know all these distinctions and all the consequent distinct kinds of neighbor that arise in accordance with the different ways the Lord is accepted—that is, the way the good from him is accepted. Not even angels can know this except in a general way, by categories and their subcategories; and all the Lord requires of us in the church is that we live by what we know.

Since the goodness in every individual is different, it follows that the nature of each person’s goodness determines both the extent to which and the sense in which that individual can function as a neighbor to anyone else. We can see that this is the case from the Lord’s parable about the man who fell among thieves, whom both the priest and the Levite passed by, leaving him half dead, while the Samaritan, after he had bound up the man’s wounds and poured on oil and wine, lifted him onto his own beast and brought him to the inn and made arrangements for his care. This Samaritan is called “a neighbor” because he put into practice the goodness that is associated with goodwill (Luke 10:29–37). We may know from this that a neighbor is someone who is engaged in doing what is good. The oil and wine that the Samaritan poured into the wounds also mean what is good and the truth that it shows us.

from Regeneration, Pages 9, 10

Love for Ourselves and Love for the World

Love for ourselves is intending benefit only to ourselves and not to others unless it is in our own interests—having no goodwill toward the church or our country or toward any group of people or any fellow citizen. It is also being good to the church, our country, and other people only for the sake of our own reputation, advancement, or praise, so that unless we see some such reward in the good we may do for them we say at heart, “What’s the use? Why should I? What’s in it for me?” and forget about it. This shows that when we live a life of self-love we are not loving the church, our country, our community, our fellow citizens, or anything worthwhile—only ourselves.

If we give no consideration to our neighbor in what we are thinking and doing and therefore no consideration to the public good, let alone the Lord, then we live a life of self-love; we think only of ourselves and our immediate circle. This means that everything we do is done for the sake of ourselves and our own; if we do anything to benefit the public and our neighbor, it is only for the sake of appearances.

In referring to “ourselves and our immediate circle,” I mean that when we love ourselves we also love those we see as our own, in particular our children and grandchildren, and in general everyone with whom we identify, whom we call “ours.” Loving them is loving ourselves. This is because we see them as virtually part of us and see ourselves in them. Also included in those we call “ours” is everyone who praises, honors, and reveres us.

If we despise our neighbors or regard people as our enemies for merely disagreeing with us or not showing us reverence or respect, our life is a life of self-love. If for similar slights we hate our neighbors and persecute them, then we are even more deeply entrenched in self-love. And if we burn with vengeance against them and crave their destruction, our self-love is stronger still; people with this attitude eventually love being cruel.

We can tell what self-love is like by contrasting it with heavenly love. Heavenly love is loving service for its own sake, loving for their own sakes the good things we do for church, country, community, and fellow citizen. When we love these things for the sake of ourselves instead, we love them only as servants who wait on us. Therefore when we live in self-love we want the church, our country, our community, and our fellow citizens to serve us rather than wanting to serve them. We place ourselves above them, and them beneath us.

Not only that, the more we live a life of heavenly love (which is loving to be useful and do good things and having heartfelt delight when we do them), the more we are led by the Lord, since this is the love in which he is and which comes from him. On the other hand, the more we live a life of self-love, the more we are led by ourselves, and the more we are led by ourselves the more we are led by our own intrinsic characteristics; and those characteristics are nothing but evil. This is in fact the evil that we inherit—loving ourselves more than God, and the world more than heaven.

Further, to the extent that we give self-love free rein (that is, with the removal of the outward restraints exerted by fear of the law and its penalties, and of loss of reputation, respect, wealth, office, and life), this love by its very nature goes so wild that it wants to rule not only over every country on earth but even over heaven and over the Divine itself. It knows no boundary or limit. Even if this desire is not visible in the world, where the reins and restraints just mentioned keep it in check, it nevertheless lies hidden within all who devote their lives to this love. When such people find that the way forward is blocked, they stay there until the way is not blocked. The result of all this is that when their life is one of self-love they have no idea that such an insane, boundless craving lies hidden within them.

Still, no one can help but see this in powerful figures and heads of state who lack these kinds of reins, restraints, and obstacles, who charge off to conquer as many territories and countries as they can and thirst for unlimited power and glory. It is even more obvious in the people who extend their dominion into heaven and claim all of the Lord’s divine power for themselves—and ceaselessly crave for more.

from New Jerusalem, Sections 65-71

THE LORD ALONE CREATES US ANEW (Continued)

The notion that we are regenerated as a consequence of simply having the faith that is preached by the church of today—a faith that involves no cooperation on our part—is the height of foolishness.

The kind of action and cooperation just described is visible in action and movement of all types. The interaction between the heart and all its arteries is an example. The heart acts and the arteries use their sheaths and linings to cooperate; this results in circulation. A similar thing happens with the lungs. The air pressure, which depends on the height of the atmosphere above it, acts upon the lungs; the lungs work the ribs, which is immediately followed by the ribs working the lungs. This breathing motion affects every membrane in the body. The meninges of the brain, the pleura, the peritoneum, the diaphragm, and all the other membranes that cover the internal organs and inwardly hold them together, act and react and cooperate in this way, because they are flexible. Together these movements provide for our continued existence.

A similar thing happens in every fiber and nerve and in every muscle. In fact it even occurs in every piece of cartilage. It is well documented that in each of these there is an [initiating] action and then a cooperation.

Such cooperation also exists in all our bodily senses. Just like the motor organs, the sensory organs consist of fibers, membranes, and muscles; but there is no need to describe the cooperation of each one. It is well known that light acts upon the eye, sound upon the ear, odor upon the nose, taste upon the tongue; and that the organs adapt themselves to that input, which results in sensation.

Surely everyone can see from these examples that thought and will could not exist unless there was a similar action and cooperation between life as it inflows and the spiritual organic structure underlying our brain. Life flows from the Lord into that organic structure. Because the organic structure cooperates, it perceives what it is thinking. Likewise it perceives what is under consideration there, what conclusion is formed, and what action it has decided to take. If the life force alone took action but we did not cooperate (seemingly on our own), our ability to think would not exceed a log’s. We would have no more thought than a church building does when a minister is preaching; the church can indeed feel the reverberation of sound coming through the double doors as an echo, but it cannot appreciate anything about the sermon. We would be no different if we did not cooperate with the Lord in developing goodwill and faith.

What we would be like if we did not cooperate with the Lord can be further illustrated with the following comparisons. If we perceived or sensed anything spiritual related to heaven or the church, it would strike us as something hostile or disagreeable flowing in, the way our nose would react to a rotten smell, our ear would react to a dissonant sound, our eye would react to a hideous sight, or our tongue would react to something disgusting.

If the delight associated with goodwill and the enjoyment associated with faith were to flow into the spiritual organic structure of the mind of people who take delight in evil and falsity, such people would feel terrible pain and torment until they eventually collapsed in unconsciousness. The spiritual organic structure consists of long strands in helixes; under that circumstance in people of that type, it would wrap itself in coils and would be tormented like a snake on a swarm of ants. The truth of this has been fully demonstrated to me in the spiritual world through an abundance of experiences. . . .

from Regeneration, Pages 52, 53