(TCR) - True Christian Religion: Containing the Whole Theology of the New Church Predicted by the Lord in Daniel 7:13-14 and Revelation 21:1-2

TCR 504

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504. Second Memorable Relation:
I was once in that interior spiritual sight in which the angels of the superior heaven are, but I was then in the world of spirits. And I saw two spirits not far away, standing apart from each other; and I perceived that one of them loved good and truth, and was thereby in conjunction with heaven, while the other loved evil and falsity, and was thereby in conjunction with hell. I approached and called them; and from their tones and their replies, I gathered that one could perceive truths as well as the other, could acknowledge them when perceived, could thus think from the understanding, and direct his intellectual faculties as he pleased, and his voluntary faculties as he wished; consequently that they were in like freedom of choice in rational matters. I observed, moreover, that from that freedom there appeared in their minds a lucidity extending from their first sight, which was that of perception, to their last, which was that of the eye. [2] But when the one who loved evil and falsity was left to his own thought, I noticed that a kind of smoke arose from hell, and extinguished that lucidity which was above the memory, so that there was a thick darkness in him there like that of midnight; and also that the smoke ignited and burned like a flame, which illuminated the region of his mind below the memory, and this caused him to think enormous falsities arising from the evils of the love of self. But when the other, who loved good and truth, was left to himself, I saw, as it were, a gentle flame flowing down from heaven, which illuminated the region of his mind above the memory, and also the region below it even to the eye; also that the light from that flame shone brighter and brighter, in proportion as from the love of good he had a perception and thought of the truth.
From seeing this, it was made clear to me that every man, good and evil alike, has spiritual freedom of choice, but that hell sometimes extinguishes it in the wicked, while heaven exalts and enkindles it in the good.
[3] Afterward I talked with both of them, first with the one who loved evil and falsity, and when, after a few words about his lot, I mentioned freedom of choice, he fired up, and said, "What madness it is to believe that man has freedom of choice in spiritual things! What man can acquire faith of himself, or do good of himself? Does not the priesthood of today teach from the Word that no man can receive anything unless it be given him from heaven? And the Lord Christ said to His disciples, 'Apart from Me ye can do nothing.' To which I will add, that no man can move hand or foot to do any good, or move his tongue to speak any truth from good. Therefore the church by her wise men has concluded that man can no more will, understand or think anything spiritual, or even adapt himself to willing, understanding, or thinking truth, than a statue, a stock or a stone; and therefore it is God who according to His good pleasure inspires faith, to whom alone belongs most free and unlimited power; and this faith, without any labor or power of ours, under the operation of the Holy Spirit, produces all that the unlearned ascribe to man."
[4] I then talked with the other, who loved good and truth; and when, after a few remarks about his lot, I mentioned freedom of choice, he said, "What madness it is to deny man's freedom of choice in spiritual things! Who is not able to will and do good, and think and speak what is true of himself from the Word, thus from the Lord who is the Word? For He has said, 'Make the fruit good,' and 'Believe in the right,' and 'Love one another,' and 'Love God,' and also, 'Whosoever heareth My precepts and doeth them, loveth Me, and I will love him;' besides thousands of like sayings throughout the Word. What then is the Word good for, if man has no power to will and think, and from that to do and say what is there commanded? Without that power in man, what would religion in the church be but like a wrecked vessel lying at the bottom of the sea, with the captain standing on the very top of the mast and crying out, 'I can do nothing;' while he sees the crew in the small boats with sails spread and sailing away? Was there not given to Adam the freedom to eat of the tree of life, and also of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? And because from his freedom he ate of this latter tree, smoke from the serpent, that is, from hell, entered his mind, on account of which he was cast out of Paradise and cursed. And still he did not lose his freedom of choice, for we read that the way to the tree of life was guarded by a cherub, and unless this had been done, he might still have wished to eat of it."
[5] At these remarks the other, who loved evil and falsity, said, "What I have heard, I pass by; what I before advance I still adhere to. But who does not know that God alone is alive and thus active, while man is of himself dead and therefore merely passive? How can a being who is in himself dead and merely passive take to himself anything living and active?"
To this I replied, "Man is an organ of life, and God alone is life; and God pours His life into the organ and into every least part of it; as the sun pours its heat into a tree and every least part of it. It is also God's gift that man should feel that life in himself as if it were his own, and it is God's will that he should so feel it, in order that man as if of himself may live in accordance with the laws of order, which are as numerous as the precepts of the Word, and thus may dispose himself for the reception of God's love. Nevertheless, God perpetually holds with his finger the perpendicular above the scales, and moderates man's freedom of choice, but never violates it by compulsion. [6] A tree cannot receive anything that the heat of the sun brings to it through its roots, unless it grows warm and is heated in every least fiber; nor can the elements rise up through its roots, unless every least fiber gives out heat from that which it has received, and thus contributes to the passage of those elements. Man does likewise from the heat of life that he receives from God; but unlike a tree, man feels the heat as his own, and yet it is not his own; and while so far as he believes that it is his and not God's, he receives the light of life, he does not receive the heat of love from God, but the heat of love from hell; and this being gross obstructs and closes the purer branchlets of the organism, as impure blood clogs the capillary vessels of the body. Thus man from being spiritual makes himself merely natural. [7] Man's freedom of choice is from this, that any life in himself is felt as his own, and that God leaves him so to feel in order that a conjunction may be effected between them, which is not possible unless it is reciprocal; and it becomes reciprocal when man acts from freedom altogether as if of himself. If God had not left this to man, he would not be man, neither would he have eternal life; for reciprocal conjunction with God is the cause that man is man, and not a beast, and also that he lives after death to eternity. This is the effect of freedom of choice in spiritual things."
[8] After hearing this, the evil spirit removed to a distance, and then I saw upon a certain tree a flying serpent, such as is called a fiery serpent, which held out to somebody fruit from the tree. I then drew near in spirit to the place, and instead of the serpent a monstrous man was seen there, his face so covered with beard that only his nose was visible; and instead of the tree there was a burning stump, near which stood the man whose mind the smoke had formerly entered, and who had afterwards rejected the idea of freedom of choice in spiritual things. And just then a similar smoke came out of the stump, and enveloped them both; and as they were thus taken out of my sight, I went away. But the other spirit, who loved good and truth, and held that man has freedom of choice in spiritual things, accompanied me home.


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