(SS) - Teachings for the New Jerusalem on Sacred Scripture

SS 115

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115. But as there are those who maintain, and have confirmed themselves in the opinion, that without a Word it is possible for a man to know of the existence of God, and of heaven and hell, and of all the other things taught by the Word, and as they thereby weaken the authority and holiness of the Word, if not with the lips, yet in the heart, therefore it is not practicable to deal with them from the Word, but only from rational light, for they do not believe in the Word, but in themselves. Investigate the matter from rational light, and you will find that in man there are two faculties of life called the understanding and the will, and that the understanding is subject to the will, but not the will to the understanding, for the understanding merely teaches and shows the way. Make further investigation, and you will find that man's will is what is his own [proprium], and that this, regarded in itself, is nothing but evil, and that from this springs what is false in the understanding.
[2] Having discovered these facts you will see that from himself a man does not desire to understand anything but that which comes from the own of his will, and also that it is not possible for him to do so unless there is some other source from which he may know it. From the own of his will a man does not desire to understand anything except that which relates to himself and to the world; everything above this is to him in thick darkness. So that when he sees the sun, the moon, the stars, and chances to think about their origin, how is it possible for him to think otherwise than that they exist of themselves? Can he raise his thoughts higher than do many of the learned in the world who acknowledge only nature, in spite of the fact that from the Word they know of the creation of all things by God? What then would these same have thought if they had known nothing from the Word?
[3] Do you believe that the wise men of old, Aristotle, Cicero, Seneca, and others, who wrote about God and the immortality of the soul, got this from themselves [proprio]? Not so, but from others who had it by tradition from those who first knew it from the [Ancient] Word. Neither do the writers on natural theology get any such matters from themselves. They merely confirm by rational arguments what they have already become acquainted with from the church in which is the Word; and there may be some among them who confirm without believing it.


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