In the Presence of Angels

This session's reading offered so many different impressions, that I had difficulty picking just one to focus upon. I noted the sections of each paragraph that stood out below and offer my thoughts on them.


LOGOPRAXIS ACV6 S19 : AC 4552 to 4578
THE PRESENCE OF ANGELS

AC 4552 [2] The truth that ‘the terror of God’ means protection may be illustrated by things that happen in the next life. There the hells cannot possibly go near heaven, nor evil spirits go near any heavenly community, because the terror of God enters into them. Indeed when evil spirits approach any heavenly community they are suddenly seized by feelings of distress and torment, and those who have been through this experience a number of times do not dare to make such an approach. This not daring to do so is what ‘the terror of God’ is used to mean in the internal sense. Not that God or the Lord sets out to terrify them. Rather they are terrified because they are under the influence of falsities and evils, and so of things that are the opposite of goods and truths; and it is those actual falsities and evils, when they approach goods and truths, that cause the evil spirits to feel distressed and tormented.

Right off the bat reading this section filled me with a sense of hope. The fact that hells cannot go near heaven or that evil spirits flee in the presence of angels is comforting to me.  As I engage in the process of regeneration, which involves examining my thoughts and motivations, then repenting those that go against the Lord, I am comforted in the knowledge that this process succeeds, only with the help of the Lord, in suppressing* the evil spirits who delight in my proprium.

*Evils are not removed, but suppressed and kept in check by the Lord. See the next section on hereditary evil for clarification.


HEREDITARY EVIL

AC 4563 [2] It is well known that a person derives evil from both parents and that this evil is called hereditary evil. He is therefore born with that evil, but it does not show itself until he grows up and acts from his understanding and his will based on his understanding. In the meantime it lies hidden, especially during early childhood. Now because in the Lord’s mercy no one can come to be blamed for his hereditary evil, only for the evil of his own doing, and hereditary evil cannot become evil of his own doing until he acts from his own understanding and his own will, young children are therefore guided by the Lord by means of young children and angels.

My first question, upon reading this section, was what exactly is hereditary evil? Most of us are under the impression that we are born sinners. Most traditional Christian doctrines define it this way. Swedenborg, however, describes it differently. He says that we are not born sinners, but with a propensity to sin.  Just like our physical and mental traits are inherited, we also inherit a tendency toward certain behaviors from our parents.
The really significant difference in the traditional interpretation and Swedenborg's revelation is that Swedenborg points out we are not held responsible for these inclinations toward sins.  We are only responsible for the ones we choose to act upon.  In other words, the evil tendencies we have within us, some of which never even come to our awareness, are not attributed to us until we condone them in our self, and intend to act on them when opportunity arises.(1)
Before I understood the Lord's mercy in this regard, I carried a great deal of guilt about the sins I inherited from my parents, wrongly thinking I had to repent for them, whether I acted upon them or not.

AC 4564 [2] The implication of this is that with a person who is being regenerated, neither hereditary evil nor that of his own doing is removed in such a way as to disappear or be eliminated, but is merely separated and through the rearrangement effected by the Lord is cast away to the most outlying parts. It accordingly remains with that person, and does so for ever, but he is withheld from evil by the Lord and maintained in good. When this happens it seems as though evils have been cast away and the person has been purified from them or, as it is said, made righteous. All the angels of heaven confess that in their case, insofar as anything originates in themselves it is entirely evil and consequently false, but insofar as it originates in the Lord it is good and consequently true.


THE TWO PARTS OF MAN

AC 4570 [2] But the internal part of the natural is made up of ideas inferred – by the use of analysis and analogies – from what is in the external, even though it draws on and derives its ideas from sensory impressions. So the natural is in touch through the senses with things belonging to the world and to the body, and through ideas, arrived at by the use of analogy and analysis, with the rational, thus with things belonging to the spiritual world.

[3] Further to this it should be recognized that the terms celestial and spiritual are used both of the rational and of the natural. Celestial is used when people receive good, and spiritual when they receive truth from the Lord.


TEMPTATIONS

AC 4572 [2] In general it should be recognized that every joining together of good and truth is effected by means of temptations. The reason for this is that evils and falsities offer resistance and so to speak engage in rebellion, and by every means try to prevent the joining of good to truth, and of truth to good. This conflict takes place between the spirits present within man, that is to say, between the spirits governed by evils and falsities and the spirits governed by goods and truths. Man experiences that conflict as temptation within himself. When therefore the spirits governed by evils and falsities are conquered by the spirits governed by goods and truths, the former are compelled to depart and the latter receive joy from the Lord by way of heaven. This joy is also felt by the person concerned as comfort; he feels it within himself. Yet the joy and comfort do not come because a victory has been won but because good and truth have been joined together. Joy is present within every joining together of good and truth, for that joining together is the heavenly marriage, in which the Divine is present.


EVERYDAY VIRTUES: INTEGRITY + PROPRIETY

AC 4574 [3] Two virtues of everyday life, public or private, are integrity and propriety. Integrity consists in the heartfelt desire for another person’s good within everyday life, whereas propriety consists in the demonstration of that integrity in speech and gestures, so that regarded in itself propriety is nothing other than the form which integrity takes, for this is what gives rise to propriety. This being so, when integrity displays itself through propriety, that is, through proper and appropriate speech and gestures, integrity is seen in every aspect of proper behavior. This is so much the case that everything uttered through speech or expressed through gestures is seen as integrity, for everything is a form or image by means of which integrity shines forth. Integrity and propriety accordingly go together like essence and its form, or what is essential and what is formal. But if anyone severs integrity from propriety – that is, if he bears ill-will towards his fellow man, yet speaks well of him and behaves well towards him – there is no longer any integrity at all in his words or actions, no matter how much he tries to present through propriety an outward form that looks like integrity. It is absence of integrity, and one who is clear-sighted calls it this, because it is either pretentious, fraudulent, or deceitful.


MY TASK

To continue the examination of my thoughts and motivations, asking the Lord for clarification, so that I might recognize when I am seeking truth or just entertaining my proprium.


LINKS + SOURCES
  1. Repentance-Or, Why Being Nice is Not Enough, A Sermon by Gordon Meyer, The Virginia St. Church, May 17, 2015.

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