Doctrine of Faith, by Emanuel Swedenborg, , tr. by John F. Potts , at sacred-texts.com
FAITH IS AN INTERNAL ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF TRUTH. At the present day the term Faith is taken to mean the mere thought that the thing is so because the church so teaches, and because it is not evident to the understanding. For we are told to believe and not to doubt, and if we say that we do not comprehend, we are told that this is just the reason for believing. So that the faith of the present day is a faith in the unknown, and may be called blind faith, and as it is something that somebody has said, in somebody else, it is a faith of hearsay. It will be seen presently that this is not spiritual faith.2.
Real faith is nothing else than an acknowledgment that the thing is so because it is true; for one who is in real faith thinks and says, "This is true, and therefore I believe it." For faith is of truth, and truth is of faith. If such a person does not see the truth of a thing, he says, "I do not know whether this is true, and therefore as yet I do not believe it. How can I believe what I do not intellectually comprehend? Perhaps it is false."3.
But a common remark is that no one can comprehend spiritual or theological matters because they are supernatural. Spiritual truths however can be comprehended just as well as natural ones; and even if they are not clearly comprehended, still as soon as they are heard it is possible to perceive whether they are true or not. This is especially the case with those whose affection is excited by truths. I have been permitted to know this by much experience. I have been permitted to speak with the uneducated, with the dull-minded, and with the utterly senseless, as also with persons who had been in falsities, and those who had been in evils, all born within the church, and who had heard somewhat about the Lord and about faith and charity; and I have been permitted to tell them certain secrets of wisdom, and they comprehended everything and acknowledged it. At the time however they were in that light of the understanding which every human being possesses; and felt withal the pride of being thought intelligent. All this happened in my interaction with spirits. Many others who were with me were hereby convinced that spiritual things can be comprehended just as well as natural, that is, when they are heard or read. But comprehension by the man himself when thinking from himself is by no means so easy. The reason spiritual things can be comprehended is that in respect to the understanding a man may be uplifted into the light of heaven, in which light none but spiritual things appear, and these are the truths of faith. For the light of heaven is spiritual light.4.
This then is the reason why those who are in the spiritual affection of truth possess an internal acknowledgment of truth. 4-1 As the angels are in this affection, they discard the dogma that the understanding must be kept in obedience to faith, and say, "What is this? believing when you do not see whether the thing is true?" And if somebody says that still it is to be believed, they reply, "Do you consider yourself the Deity that I am bound to believe you? or do you think me mad enough to believe a statement in which I do not see the truth? Cause me to see it." Thereupon the dogmatizer betakes himself elsewhere. The wisdom of the angels consists solely in this: that they see and comprehend everything they think about.5.
A spiritual idea (about which few know anything) inflows into those who are in the affection of truth, and inwardly tells them that what they hear or read is true, or is not true. In this idea are those who read the Word in enlightenment from the Lord. To be in enlightenment is nothing else than to be in the perception, and in the consequent internal acknowledgment, that this or that is true. These are they who are called "the taught of Jehovah" (Isa. 54:13; John 6:45); and of whom it is said in Jeremiah: Behold, the days come that I will make a new covenant: this shall be the covenant: I will put My law in their inward parts, and upon their heart will I write it, and they shall teach no more every man his companion, or every man his brother, saying, Know [Cognoscite] Jehovah; for they shall all know Me (Jer. 31:31, 33-34).6.
From all this it is evident that faith and truth are a one. For this reason the ancients (who from their affection for truths thought more about them than the men of our time) instead of saying Faith, were accustomed to say Truth. For the same reason also truth and faith are one word in the Hebrew language, namely Amuna or Amen.7.
The reason the term "faith" is used by the Lord in the Gospels and Revelation is that the Jews did not believe it to be true that He was the Messiah foretold by the prophets; and where truth is not believed, there "faith" is spoken of. But still it is one thing to have faith and believe in the Lord, and another to have faith and believe in someone else. The difference will be explained below.8.
Faith separated from truth came in and took possession of the church along with the papal dominion, because the chief safeguard of that religion was ignorance of truth. For this reason also they forbade the reading of the Word, for otherwise they could not have been worshiped as deities, nor could their saints have been invoked, nor idolatry instituted to such an extent that dead bodies, bones, and sepulchers were regarded as holy, and made use of for purposes of gain. From this it is evident what enormous falsities a blind faith can bring into being.9.
Blind faith survived later with many of the Reformed, because they had separated faith from charity, for they who separate these two must needs be in ignorance of truth, and they will give the name of faith to the mere thought that the thing is so, quite apart from any internal acknowledgment. With these also, ignorance is the safeguard of dogma, for so long as ignorance bears sway, together with the persuasion that theological matters transcend comprehension, they can speak without being contradicted, and it can be believed that their tenets are true, and that they themselves understand them.10.
The Lord said to Thomas: Because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that do not see, and yet believe (John 20:29). This does not mean a faith separated from the internal acknowledgment of truth; but that they are blessed who do not like Thomas, see the Lord with their eyes, and yet believe in His existence, for this is seen in the light of truth from the Word.11.
As the internal acknowledgment of truth is faith, and as faith and truth are a one (as was said above, n. 2, 4-6), it follows that an external acknowledgment without an internal one is not faith, and also that a persuasion of what is false is not faith. An external acknowledgment without an internal one is a faith in what is unknown, and a faith in what is unknown is mere memory-knowledge [scientia], which if confirmed becomes persuasion. They who are in such knowledge and persuasion think a thing true because somebody has said so, or they think it is true from their having confirmed it; and yet what is false can be confirmed just as well as what is true, and sometimes better. To think a thing true from having confirmed it is to think that something another says is true, and then to confirm it without previous examination.12.
If any one should think within himself, or say to some one else, "Who is able to have the internal acknowledgment of truth which is faith? not I;" let me tell him how he may have it: Shun evils as sins, and come to the Lord, and you will have as much of it as you desire. (That he who shuns evils as sins is in the Lord, see the Doctrine of Life for the New Jerusalem n. 18-31; that such a one loves truth, and sees it, n. 32-41; and that he has faith, n. 42-52)13.
THE INTERNAL ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF TRUTH, WHICH IS FAITH, EXISTS WITH NONE BUT THOSE WHO ARE IN CHARITY. We have already said what faith is, and will now say what charity is. In its origin or beginning, charity is the affection of good, and as good loves truth, the affection of good produces the affection of truth, and through it the acknowledgment of truth which is faith. Through this succession, the affection of good 13-1 comes forth into manifest being, and becomes charity. This is the progressive advance of charity from its origin which is the affection of good, through faith which is the acknowledgment of truth, to its final end in view, which is charity. The final end is the doing. And this shows how love, here the affection of good, produces faith-which is the same thing as the acknowledgment of truth-and through this produces charity-which is the same thing as the working of love through faith.14.
More clearly:-Good is nothing but Use, so that in its very origin charity is the affection of use; and as use loves the means, the affection of use produces the affection of the means, and from this the knowledge [cognitio] of them, and through this progression the affection of use comes forth into manifest being [existit], and becomes charity.15.
The progression of these things is precisely like that of all things of the will through the understanding into bodily acts. The will brings forth nothing from itself apart from the understanding, nor does the understanding bring forth anything from itself apart from the will. In order that anything may come forth into manifest being, the two must act in conjunction. Or, what is the same: Affection, which belongs to the will, brings forth nothing from itself except by means of thought, which is of the understanding (the converse also being true), for in order that anything may come forth into manifest being the two must act in conjunction. For consider: If you take away from thought all affection belonging to some love, can you exercise thought? Or if from the affection you take away all thought, are you then able to be affected by anything? Or, what is much the same, if you take away affection from thought, can you speak anything? Or if you take away thought or understanding from affection, can you do anything? It is the same with charity and faith.16.
All this may be illustrated by comparison with a tree. The prime source of a tree is a seed, and in this there is an endeavor to bring forth fruit. This endeavor, roused to activity by heat, brings forth first a root, and then from that a stem or stalk with branches and leaves, and at last the fruit; and in this way the endeavor to bear fruit comes forth into manifest being. From this it is evident that the endeavor to bring forth fruit is constant through the whole progression until it attains manifest being, for if it ceased the capacity to vegetate would die at once. This is the application: The tree is man; in him the endeavor to bring forth the means is from his will in his understanding; the stem or stalk with branches and leaves, in him are the instrumental means, and are called the truths of faith; the fruits which in the tree are the ultimate effects of the endeavor to bear fruit, in man are uses and in these his will comes forth into manifest being. From this it may be seen that the will to bring forth uses by means of the understanding is constant through the whole progression, until it comes into manifest being. (Concerning the will and the understanding, and their conjunction, see the Doctrine of Life for the New Jerusalem, n. 43.)17.
From what has now been said it is evident that charity, insofar as it is the affection of good or of use, brings forth faith as a means through which it may come into manifest being; and therefore that charity and faith, in working uses, act in conjunction; and also that faith does not bring forth good or use from itself, but from charity, for faith is charity in its mediate stage. It is therefore a fallacy that faith brings forth good as a tree does its fruit. The tree is not faith. The tree is the man himself.18.
Be it known that charity and faith make a one as do the will and the understanding, for charity is of the will, and faith is of the understanding. And in the same way, that charity and faith make a one as do affection and thought, because affection is of the will, and thought is of the understanding. And also that charity and faith make a one as do good and truth, because good is of affection which belongs to the will, and truth is of thought which belongs to the understanding. In a word, charity and faith make a one as do essence and form, because charity is the essence of faith, and faith is the form of charity. This shows that faith without charity is like a form without an essence, which is not anything at all; and that charity without faith is like an essence without a form, which likewise is not anything at all.19.
Charity and faith in a man are related to each other precisely as are the motion of the heart called systole and diastole, and that of the lungs called breathing. Moreover there is a full correspondence of these two with man's will and understanding, and therefore with charity and faith. For this reason the will and its affection are meant in the Word by the "heart," and the understanding and its thought by the "breath" [animam], and the "spirit" [spiritum], on which account to "give up the breath [animam]," or "yield up the spirit [spiritum]," means to cease to respire, or to expire. This shows that there cannot be faith without charity, nor charity without faith; faith without charity being like breathing with the lungs in the absence of a heart, which is impossible in any living being, but only in some artificial apparatus; and charity without faith being like a heart without any lungs, which can afford no conscious life; and therefore charity performs uses by means of faith, just as the heart does its work by means of the lungs. So great is the likeness between the heart and charity, and between the lungs and faith, that in the spiritual world every one is known in respect to the quality of his faith by his mere breathing, and in respect to that of his charity by the way his heart beats. For angels and spirits live by a heartbeat and breathing just as men do, and it is for this reason that they, equally with men in this world, feel, think, act, and speak.20.
As charity is love toward the neighbor, we will say what the neighbor is. In the natural sense, the neighbor is man both collectively and individually. Collectively, man is the church, our country, and society; individually, he is our fellow-citizen, who in the Word is called "brother" and "companion." But in the spiritual sense the neighbor is good, and as use is good, the neighbor in this sense is use. That use is the spiritual neighbor must be acknowledged by everyone. For who loves a human being merely as a person? We love him for that which he has in him, and which gives him his character; thus from his quality, for this is the man. And this quality that we love is use, and is called good, so that this is the neighbor. And as, in its bosom, the Word is spiritual, therefore in its spiritual sense this is to "love the neighbor."21.
But it is one thing to love the neighbor on account of the good or use he is to us, and another to love him from the good or use we may be to him. Even an evil man can do the first, but only a good man the second, for a good man loves good from good, that is, he loves use from the affection of use. The difference between the two is described by the Lord in Matthew 5:42-47. Many say, "I love such a man because he loves me and does me good;" but to love anyone for this only is not to love him inwardly, unless he who so loves is himself in good, and from it loves the good of the other. In this case the man is in charity, but in the other he is in a friendship which is not charity. A man who loves the neighbor from charity conjoins himself with his good, and not with his person except insofar and for so long as he is in good. Such a man is spiritual, and loves his neighbor spiritually, whereas one who loves another from mere friendship, conjoins himself with his person, and at the same time with his evil, and after death he cannot without difficulty be separated from the personality that is in evil, but the former can. Charity effects this by means of faith, which faith is the truth; and the man who is in charity by means of the truth examines thoroughly and sees what ought to be loved, and in loving and conferring benefits he regards the quality of the other's use.22.
Love to the Lord is Love properly so called, and love toward the neighbor is Charity. With man no love to the Lord is possible except in charity; it is in charity that the Lord conjoins Himself with a man. As, in its essence, faith is charity, it follows that no one can have faith in the Lord unless he is in charity. There is conjunction from charity through faith; through charity conjunction of the Lord with man, and through faith conjunction of man with the Lord. (That the conjunction is reciprocal, see the Doctrine of Life for the New Jerusalem, n. 102-107.)23.
In brief: In proportion as anyone shuns evils as sins, and looks to the Lord, in the same proportion he is in charity, and therefore in the same proportion he is in faith. (That in proportion as anyone shuns evils as sins and looks to the Lord, in the same proportion he is in charity, may be seen in the Doctrine of Life for the New Jerusalem, n. 67-73, and also n. 74-91; and that in the same proportion he has faith, n. 42-52. What charity properly understood is, n. 114.)24.
From all said thus far it is evident that saving faith, which is the internal acknowledgment of truth, is impossible to all except those who are in charity.25.
THE KNOWLEDGES [COGNITIONES] OF TRUTH AND OF GOOD ARE NOT MATTERS OF REAL BELIEF [FIDEI] UNTIL THE MAN IS IN CHARITY, BUT ARE THE STOREHOUSE OF MATERIAL OUT OF WHICH THE FAITH OF CHARITY CAN BE FORMED. From his earliest childhood man has the affection of knowing, which leads him to learn many things that will be of use to him, and many that will be of no use. While he is growing into manhood he learns by application to some business such things as belong to that business, and this business then becomes his use, and he feels an affection for it. In this way commences the affection or love of use, and this brings forth the affection of the means which teach him the handling of the business which is his use. With everybody in the world there is this progression, because everybody has some business to which he advances from the use that is his end, by the means, to the actual use which is the effect. But inasmuch as this use together with the means that belong to it is for the sake of life in this world, the affection that is felt for it is natural affection only.26.
But as every man not only regards uses for the sake of life in this world, but also should regard uses for the sake of his life in heaven (for into this life he will come after his life here, and will live in it to eternity), therefore from childhood everyone acquires knowledges [cognitiones] of truth and good from the Word, or from the doctrine of the church, or from preaching, which knowledges are to be learned and retained for the sake of that life; and these he stores up in his natural memory in greater or less abundance according to such affection of knowing as may be inborn with him, and has in various ways been incited to an increase.27.
But all these knowledges [cognitiones], whatever may be their number and whatever their nature, are merely the storehouse of material from which the faith of charity can be formed, and this faith cannot be formed except in proportion as the man shuns evils as sins. If he shuns evils as sins, then these knowledges become those of a faith that has spiritual life within it. But if he does not shun evils as sins, then these knowledges are nothing but knowledges [cognitiones], and do not become those of a faith that has any spiritual life within it.28.
This storehouse of material is in the highest degree necessary, because faith cannot be formed without it, for the knowledges [cognitiones] of truth and good enter into faith and make it, so that if there are no knowledges, faith cannot come forth into being, for an entirely void and empty faith is impossible. If the knowledges are scanty, the faith is consequently very small and meager; if they are abundant, the faith becomes proportionately rich and full.29.
Be it known however that it is knowledges[cognitiones] of genuine truth and good that constitute faith, and by no means knowledges of what is false, for faith is truth (as before said, n. 5-11), and as falsity is the opposite of truth, it destroys faith. Neither can charity come forth into being where there are nothing but falsities, for (as before said, n. 18) charity and faith make a one just as good and truth make a one. From all this it follows that an absence of knowledges of genuine truth and good involves an absence of faith, that a few knowledges make some faith, and that many knowledges make a faith which is clear and bright in proportion to their abundance. Such as is the quality of a man's faith from charity, such is the quality of his intelligence.30.
There are many who possess no internal acknowledgment of truth, and yet have the faith of charity. These are they who have had regard to the Lord in their life, and from religion have avoided evils, but have been prevented from thinking about truths by worldly cares and by their businesses, as well as by a lack of truth on the part of their teachers. But inwardly, that is, in their spirit, they still are in the acknowledgment of truth, because they are in the affection of it, and therefore after death, when they become spirits and are instructed by angels, they acknowledge truths and receive them with joy. Very different is the case with those who have had no regard to the Lord in their life, and have not from religion avoided evils. Inwardly, that is, in their spirit, they are in no affection of truth, and consequently are in no acknowledgment of it, and therefore after death, when they become spirits and are instructed by angels, they are unwilling to acknowledge truths, and consequently do not receive them. For evil of life inwardly hates truths, whereas good of life inwardly loves them.31.
Knowledges [cognitiones] of good and truth that precede faith appear to some to be things of faith (or real belief), but still are not so. Their thinking and saying that they believe is no proof that they do so, and neither are such knowledges things of faith, for they are matters of mere thought that the case is so, and not of any internal recognition that they are truths; and the faith or belief that they are truths, while it is not known that they are so, is a kind of persuasion quite remote from inward recognition. But as soon as charity is being implanted, these knowledges become things of faith, but no further than as there is charity in the faith. In the first state, before charity is felt, faith appears to them as though it were in the first place, and charity in the second; but in the second state, when charity is felt, faith betakes itself to the second place, and charity to the first. The first state is called Reformation, and the second Regeneration. In this latter state a man grows in wisdom every day, and every day good multiplies truths and causes them to bear fruit. The man is then like a tree that bears fruit, and inserts seeds in the fruit, from which come new trees, and at last a garden. He then becomes truly a man, and after death an angel, in whom charity constitutes the life, and faith the form, beautiful in accordance with the quality of the faith; but his faith is then no longer called faith, but intelligence. From all this it is evident that the whole sum and substance of faith is from charity, and nothing of it from itself; and also that charity brings forth faith, and not faith charity. The knowledges of truth that go before are like the store in a granary, which does not feed a man unless he is hungry and takes out the grain.32.
We will also say how faith is formed from charity. Every man has a natural mind and a spiritual mind: a natural mind for the world, and a spiritual mind for heaven. In respect to his understanding, man is in both minds, but not in respect to his will, until he shuns and is averse to evils as sins. When he does this his spiritual mind is opened in respect to the will also; and when it has been opened there inflows from it into the natural mind spiritual heat from heaven (which heat in its essence is charity), and gives life to the knowledges of truth and good in the natural mind, and out of them it forms faith. The case here is just as it is with a tree, which does not receive any vegetative life until heat inflows from the sun, and conjoins itself with the light, as takes place in spring time. There is also a full parallelism between the quickening of man with life and the growing of a tree, in this respect, that the latter is effected by the heat of this world, and the former by the heat of heaven. It is for this reason also that man is so often likened by the Lord to a tree.33.
From these few words it may be considered settled that the knowledges of truth and good are not really things of faith until the man is in charity, but that they are the storehouse of material out of which the faith of charity can be formed. With a regenerate person the knowledges of truth become truths, and so do the knowledges of good, for the knowledge of good is in the understanding, and the affection of good in the will, and what is in the understanding is called truth, and what is in the will is called good.34.
THE CHRISTIAN FAITH IN ITS UNIVERSAL IDEA OR FORM. 34-1 The Christian Faith in its universal idea or form is this: The Lord from eternity, who is Jehovah, came into the world to subdue the hells, and to glorify His Human; and without this no mortal could have been saved; and they are saved who believe in Him.35.
It is said "in the universal idea or form" because this is what is universal of the Faith, and what is universal of the Faith is that which must be in all things of it both in general and in particular. It is a Universal of the Faith that God is One in Person and in Essence, in whom is the Trinity, and that the Lord is that God. It is a Universal of the Faith that no mortal could have been saved unless the Lord had come into the world. It is a Universal of the Faith that He came into the world in order to remove hell from man, and He removed it by combats against it and by victories over it; thus He subdued it, and reduced it into order and under obedience to Himself. It is also a Universal of the Faith that He came into the world in order to glorify the Human which He took upon Him in the world, that is, in order to unite it to the all-originating Divine [Divino a Quo]; thus to eternity does He hold in order and under obedience to Himself hell subjugated by Himself. And inasmuch as neither of these mighty works could have been accomplished except by means of temptations even to the uttermost of them, which was the passion of the cross, He therefore underwent this uttermost temptation. These are the Universals of the Christian Faith concerning the Lord.36.
The Universal of the Christian Faith on the part of man is that he believe in the Lord, for through believing in Him there is effected conjunction with Him, by which comes salvation. To believe in Him is to have confidence that He will save, and as no one can have this confidence except one who lives aright, therefore this also is meant by believing in Him.37.
These two Universals of the Christian Faith have already been treated of specifically; the first, which regards the Lord, in the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Lord; and the second, which regards man, in the Doctrine of Life for the New Jerusalem. It is therefore unnecessary to discuss them further here.38.
THE FAITH OF THE PRESENT DAY IN ITS UNIVERSAL IDEA OR FORM. The Faith of the present day in its universal idea or form is this: God the Father sent His Son to make satisfaction for mankind, and for the sake of this merit of the Son He is moved to compassion, and saves those who believe this (or, according to others, saves those who believe this, and at the same time do good works).39.
But in order that the character of this Faith may be seen more clearly, I will adduce in their order the various things which it maintains. The Faith of the present day maintains that: i. God the Father and God the Son are two; and both are from eternity. ii. God the Son came into the world by the will of the Father to make satisfaction for mankind, who otherwise would have perished in eternal death by the Divine justice, which they also call avenging justice. iii. The Son made satisfaction by fulfilling the law, and by the passion of the cross. iv. The Father was moved to compassion by these deeds of the Son. v. The Son's merit is imputed to those who believe this. vi. This imputation takes place in an instant; and therefore it may take place, if not before, in life's last moments. vii. There is some measure of temptation, and deliverance thereupon through this belief. viii. Those possessing this experience, in especial have trust and confidence. ix. In especial they have justification, the Father's full grace for the sake of the Son, the remission of all their sins, and thereby salvation. x. The more learned maintain that in such there is an endeavor [conatus] toward good, which works in secret, and does not manifestly move the will. Others maintain a manifest working. Both classes hold that it is by the Holy Spirit. xi. Of those who confirm themselves in the belief that no one can of himself do good that is really good and that is not tainted with self-merit, and that they are not under the yoke of the law, very many omit to do what is good, giving no thought to the evil and the good of life, saying to themselves that a good work does not save, and neither does an evil one condemn, because faith alone effects all things. xii. All maintain that the understanding must be kept in subjection to faith, calling that a matter of faith which is not understood.40.
We forbear to examine and weigh these points severally in regard to their being truths, their real character being very evident from what has already been said, especially from what has been shown from the Word, and at the same time rationally confirmed, in the Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Lord, and in the Doctrine of Life for the New Jerusalem.41.
Still, in order that it may be seen what is the character of faith separated from charity, and what that of faith not separated from it, I will impart something which I heard from an angel of heaven. He said that he had conversed with many of the Reformed, and had heard what was the character of their faith, and he related his conversation with one who was in faith separated from charity, and with another who was in faith not separated, and what he had heard from them. He said that he questioned them, and they made answer. As what was said may elucidate the subject, I will here present the two conversations.42.
The angel said that with him who was in faith separated from charity he spoke as follows: "Friend, who are you?" "I am a Reformed Christian." "What is your doctrine and the religion you have from it?" "It is faith." "What is your faith?" "My faith is that 'God the Father sent the Son to make satisfaction for mankind, and that they are saved who believe this.'" "What more do you know about salvation?" "Salvation is through that faith alone." "What do you know about redemption?" "It was effected by the passion of the cross, and the Son's merit is imputed through that faith." "What do you know about regeneration?" "It is effected through that faith." "What do you know about repentance and the remission of sins?" "They are effected through that faith." "Say what you know about love and charity." "They are that faith." "Say what you know about good works." "They are that faith." "Say what you think about all the things commanded in the Word." "They are in that faith." "There is nothing then that you are to do?" "What is there for me to do? I cannot of myself do good that is really good." "Can you have faith of yourself?" "I cannot." "How then is it possible for you to have faith?" "That I do not inquire into. I am to have faith." Finally the angel said, "Surely you know something more than this about salvation." He replied, "What more is there for me to know, seeing that salvation is obtained through that faith alone?" Then the angel said, "You answer like a fifer who sounds only one note: I hear of naught but faith. If that is all you know, you know nothing. Depart, and behold your associates." So he departed and came upon his associates in a desert, where there was no grass. He asked why that was so, and was told that it was because there was nothing of the church in them.43.
With the one who was in faith not separated from charity, the angel spoke as follows: "Friend, who are you?" "I am a Reformed Christian." "What is your doctrine and the religion you have from it?" "Faith and charity." "These are two things?" "They cannot be separated." "What is faith?" "To believe what the Word teaches." "What is charity?" "To do what the Word teaches." "Have you only believed these things, or have you also done them?" "I have also done them." The angel of heaven then looked at him, and said, "My friend, come with me, and dwell with us."44.
THE NATURE OF FAITH THAT IS SEPARATED FROM CHARITY. In order that it may be seen what the character of faith is when separated from charity, I will present it in its nakedness, in which it is as follows: God the Father, being angry with mankind, cast them away from Him, and out of justice resolved to take vengeance by their eternal condemnation and He said to the Son, "Go down, fulfill the law, and take upon Thyself the condemnation destined for them, and then perchance I shall be moved to compassion." Wherefore He came down, and fulfilled the law; and suffered Himself to be hanged on the cross, and cruelly put to death. When this was done, He returned to the Father and said, "I have taken upon Myself the condemnation of mankind, therefore now be merciful;" thus interceding for them But He received for answer, "Toward them I cannot; but as I saw Thee upon the cross, and beheld then Thy blood, I have been moved to compassion. Nevertheless I will not pardon them, but I will impute unto them Thy merit, but to none others than those who acknowledge this. This shall be the faith by which they can be saved."45.
Such is that faith in its nakedness. Who that possesses any enlightened reason does not see in it absurdities that are contrary to the Divine essence itself? As for instance that God, who is love itself, and mercy itself, could out of anger and its consequent revengefulness condemn men and accurse them to hell. Or again, that He wills to be moved to mercy by His Son's taking upon Him their condemnation, and by the sight of His suffering upon the cross, and of His blood. Who that possesses any enlightened reason does not see that the Deity could not say to another coequal Deity, "I do not pardon them, but I impute to them Thy merit?" Or, "Now let them live as they please; only let them believe this and they shall be saved." Besides many other absurdities.46.
The reason why these absurdities have not been seen isI that they have induced a blind faith, and have thereby shut men's eyes, and stopped up their ears. Shut men's eyes and stop up their ears, that is, contrive that they do not exercise thought from any understanding, and then say whatever you please to persons on whom some idea of eternal life has been imprinted, and they will believe it; even if you should say that God is capable of being angry and of breathing vengeance; that God is capable of inflicting eternal condemnation on any one; that God wills to be moved to mercy through the blood of His Son; that He will impute and attribute this to man as merit and as man's; and that He will save him by his merely thinking so. Or again, that one God could bargain such things with another God of the one essence, and impose them upon Him; and other things of the same kind. But open your eyes and unstop your ears, that is, think about these things from understanding, and you will see their incongruity with the real truth.47.
Shut men's eyes and stop up their ears, and contrive that they do not think from any understanding, and can you not then lead them to believe that God has given all His authority to a man, to be as God upon earth? Can you not lead them to believe that the dead are to be addressed in prayer? that men are to bare the head and bend the knee before images of the dead? and that their lifeless bodies, their bones, and their graves, are holy and are to be venerated? But if you open your eyes and unstop your ears, that is, think about these things from some understanding, will you not behold preposterous absurdities that human reason must abhor?48.
When these things and others like them are received by a man whose understanding has been closed up by his religion, may not the temple in which he performs his worship be compared to a den or cavern underground, where he does not know what the objects are of which he catches sight? And may not his religion be compared to dwelling in a house that has no windows? and the voice of his worship to sound, and not to speech? With such a man an angel of heaven can hold no converse, because the one does not understand the language of the other.49.
IN THE WORD THEY WHO ARE IN FAITH SEPARATED FROM CHARITY ARE REPRESENTED BY THE PHILISTINES. In the Word all the names of nations and peoples, and also those of persons and places, signify the things of the church. The church itself is signified by "Israel" and "Judah," because it was instituted among them; and various religious principles are signified by the nations and peoples around them, those accordant with the church by the good nations, and those discordant with it by the evil nations. There are two evil religious principles into which every church in course of time degenerates, one that adulterates its goods, and the other that falsifies its truths. That which adulterates the goods of the church springs from the love of rule, and that which falsifies the truths of the church springs from the conceit of self-intelligence. The religious principle that springs from the love of rule is meant in the Word by "Babylon," and that which springs from the conceit of self-intelligence is meant in the Word by "Philistia." Who at the present day belong to Babylon is known, but not who belong to Philistia. To Philistia belong those who are in faith and not in charity.50.
That they belong to Philistia who are in faith and not in charity, is evident from various things said in the Word about the Philistines, when understood in the spiritual sense, as well from their strife with the servants of Abraham and of Isaac (recorded in Gen. 21 and 26), as from their wars with the sons of Israel (recorded in the book of Judges, and in the books of Samuel and of Kings); for in the spiritual sense all the wars described in the Word involve and signify spiritual wars. And as this religion, namely, faith separated from charity, is continually desiring to get into the church, the Philistines remained in the land of Canaan, and often harried the sons of Israel.
4-1 The spiritual affection of truth is the love of truth for its own sake, and because we have eternal life by means of its teaching. See the Apocalypse Explained (n. 115, 444:10).[TR.]
13-1 The Latin here reads "affection of truth," which is evidently a slip of the pen or else printer's error, as the context shows. [TR.]
34-1 The Latin word idea is evidently used here in its original Greek sense of form. See the True Christian Religion (n. 2), where Swedenborg in exactly the same connection uses the word forma instead of idea. [TR.]