regenerationp The times and states of man's regeneration in general and in particular are divided into six, and are called the days of his creation; for, by degrees, from being not a man at  all, he becomes at first something of one, and so by little and little attains to the sixth day, in which he becomes an image of God. [AC62]

Meanwhile the Lord continually fights for him against evils and falsities, and by combats confirms him in truth and good. The time of combat is the time of the Lord's working; and therefore in the Prophets the regenerate man is called the work of the fingers of God. Nor does He rest until love acts as principal; then the combat ceases. When the work has so far advanced that faith is conjoined with love, it is called "very good;" because the Lord then actuates him, as His likeness. At the end of the sixth day the evil spirits depart, and good spirits take their place, and the man is introduced into heaven, or into the celestial paradise; concerning which in the following chapter. [AC63]

A man is reformed and regenerated by the Lord by means of the two faculties and cannot be reformed or regenerated without them._ The Lord teaches that,  

Unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God (Jn 3:3,5,7).  

Few know what it is to be born anew or regenerated. For most do not know what love and charity are, therefore what faith is, either. One who does not know what love and charity are cannot know what faith is because charity and faith make one as good and truth do, and as affection which is of the will, and thought which is of the understanding, do. On this union see the treatise Divine Love and Wisdom, nn. 427-431; also Doctrine for the New Jerusalem, nn. 13-24; and above, nn. 3-20. [DP82]

No one can enter the kingdom of God unless he has been born anew for the reason that by heredity from his parents he is born into evils of every kind, with the capacity of becoming spiritual through removal of the evils; unless he becomes spiritual, then, he cannot enter heaven. To become spiritual from being natural is to be born again or regenerated.  Three things need to be considered if one is to know how man is regenerated: the nature of his first state, which is one of damnation; the nature of his second state, which is one of reformation; and the nature of his third state, which is one of regeneration.

[2] Man’s first state, which is one of damnation, is every one’s state by heredity from his parents. For man is born thereby into self-love and love of the world, and from these as fountains into evils of every kind.  By the enjoyments of those loves he is led, and they keep him from knowing that he is in evil, for the enjoyment of any love is felt to be good. Unless he is regenerated, therefore, a man knows no otherwise than that to love himself and the world above all things is good itself, and to rule over others and possess their riches is the supreme good. So comes all evil. For only oneself is regarded with love. If another is regarded with love it is as devil loves devil or thief thief when they are in league.  

[3] Those who confirm these loves with themselves and the evils flowing from them, from enjoyment in them, remain natural and become sensuous-corporeal, and in their own thinking, which is that of their spirit, are insane. And yet, as long as they are in the world they can speak and act rationally and wisely, for they are human beings and so have rationality and liberty, though they still do this from self-love and love of the world. After death and on becoming spirits, they can enjoy nothing that they did not enjoy in the world. Their enjoyment is that of an infernal love and is turned into the unpleasant, sorrowful and dreadful, meant in the Word by torment and hell-fire. Plain it is, then, that man’s first state is one of damnation and that they are in it who do not suffer themselves to be regenerated.  

[4] Man’s second state-of reformation-is his state when he begins to think of heaven for the joy there, thus of God from whom he has heaven’s joy. But at first the thought comes from the enjoyment of self-love; to him heaven’s joy is that enjoyment. While the enjoyments of that love and of the evils flowing from it rule, moreover, he cannot but think that to gain heaven is to pour out prayers, hear sermons, observe the Supper, give to the poor, help the needy, make offerings to churches, contribute to hospitals, and the like. In this state a man is persuaded that merely to think about what religion teaches, whether this is called faith or called faith and charity, is to be saved. He is so minded because he gives no thought to the evils in the enjoyments of which he is. While those enjoyments remain, the evils do. The enjoyments of the evils are from the lust for them which continually inspires them and, when no fear restrains, brings them to pass. 

[5] While evils remain in the lusts of love for them and so in one’s enjoyments, there is no faith, piety, charity or worship except in externals, which seem real in the world’s sight, but are not. They may be likened to waters flowing from an impure fountain, which one cannot drink. While a man is such that he thinks about heaven and God from religion but gives no thought to evils as sins, he is still in the first state. He comes into the second state, which is one of reformation, when he begins to think that there is such a thing as sin and still more when he thinks that a given evil is a sin, explores it somewhat in himself, and does not will it.  

[6] Man’s third state, which is one of regeneration, sets in and continues from the former. It begins when a man desists from evils as sins, progresses as he shuns them, and is perfected as he battles against them. Then as he conquers from the Lord he is regenerated. The order of his life is changed; from natural he becomes spiritual; the natural separated from the spiritual is in disorder and the spiritual is in order. The regenerated man acts from charity and makes what is of his faith a part of his charity. But he becomes spiritual only in the measure in which he is in truths. Everyone is regenerated by means of truths and of a life in accord with them; by truths he knows life and by his life he does the truths. So he unites good and truth, which is the spiritual marriage in which heaven is. [DP83]

Man is reformed and regenerated by means of the two faculties called rationality and liberty, and cannot be reformed or regenerated without them, because it is by means of rationality that he can understand and know what is evil and what is good, and hence what is false and true, and by means of liberty that he can will what he understands and knows. But while the enjoyment of an evil love rules him he cannot will good and truth freely or make them a matter of his reason, and therefore cannot appropriate them to him. For, as was shown above, what a man does in freedom from reason is appropriated to him as his, and unless it is so appropriated, he is not reformed and regenerated. He acts from the enjoyment of a love of good and truth for the first time when the enjoyment of love for the evil and false has been removed. Two opposite kinds of enjoyments of love at one and the same time are impossible. To act from the enjoyment of love is to act freely and is also to act according to reason, inasmuch as the reason favors the love. [DP85]

A person can be reformed and regenerated, we have said, in the measure in which he is led by the two faculties to acknowledge that all good and truth which he thinks and does are from the Lord and not from himself. A man can make this acknowledgment only by means of the two faculties, because they are from the Lord and are the Lord’s in him, as is plain from what has been said. Man can make this acknowledgment, therefore, only from the Lord and not from himself; he can make it as if of himself; this the Lord gives everyone to do. He may believe that it is of himself, but when wiser acknowledge that it is not of himself.  Otherwise the truth he thinks and the good he does are not in themselves truth and good, for the man and not the Lord is in them. Good in which the man is and which is done by him for salvation’s sake is self-righteous, but not that in which the Lord is. [DP90]

Few can grasp with understanding that acknowledgment of the Lord, and acknowledgment that all good and truth are from Him, cause one to be reformed and regenerated. For a person may think, “What does the acknowledgment effect when the Lord is omnipotent and wills the salvation of all? This He wills and can accomplish if only He is moved to mercy.” One is not thinking then from the Lord, nor from the interior sight of the understanding, that is, from enlightenment. Let me say briefly what the acknowledgment accomplishes.

[2] In the spiritual world where space is appearance only, wisdom brings about presence and love union, or the contrary happens. One can acknowledge the Lord from wisdom, and one can acknowledge Him from love.  The acknowledgment of Him from wisdom (viewed in itself this is only knowledge) is made by doctrine; acknowledgment from love is made in a life according to doctrine. This effects union, the other, presence.  Those, therefore, who reject instruction about the Lord remove themselves from Him, and as they also refuse life they part from Him. Those who do not reject instruction, but do refuse life, are present but still separated-like friends who converse but do not love each other, or like two one of whom speaks as a friend with the other, although as his enemy he hates him.  

[3] The truth of this is commonly recognized in the idea that one who teaches and lives well is saved but not one who teaches well but lives wickedly, and in the idea that one who does not acknowledge God cannot be saved. This makes plain what kind of religion it is only to think about the Lord from faith, so called, and not to do something from charity.  

Therefore the Lord says,  

Why do you call Me Lord, Lord, and do not do what I say? Everyone who comes to Me and hears my words and does them .. . is like a house-builder who has placed the foundation on a rock, but the man who hears and does not do, is like a man building a house on the ground without a foundation (Lu 6:46-49). [DP91]

The conjunction of the Lord with man and man’s reciprocal conjunction with the Lord is effected by these two faculties._ Conjunction with the Lord and regeneration are one and the same thing, for a man is regenerated in the measure that he is conjoined with the Lord. All that we have said above about regeneration can be said therefore of the conjunction, and all we said about conjunction can be said about regeneration. The Lord Himself teaches in John that there is a conjunction of the Lord with man and a reciprocal conjunction of man with the Lord.

Abide in Me, and I in you. . . . He that abides in Me and I in him, brings forth much fruit (15:4, 5).  

In that day you will know that you are in Me and I in you (14:20).

[2] From reason alone anyone can see that there is no conjunction of minds unless it is reciprocal, and that what is reciprocal conjoins. If one loves another without being loved in return, then as he approaches, the other withdraws; but if he is loved in return, as he approaches, the other does also, and there is conjunction. Love also wills to be loved; this is implanted in it; and so far as it is loved in return it is in itself and in its delight. Thence it is plain that if the Lord loves man and is not in turn loved by man, the Lord advances but man withdraws; thus the Lord would be constantly willing to meet with man and enter him, but man would be turning back and departing. So it is with those in hell, but with those in heaven there is mutual conjunction.  

[3] Since the Lord wills conjunction with man for salvation’s sake, He also provides something reciprocal with man. This consists in the fact that the good a man wills and does in freedom and the truth he thinks and speaks from the will according to reason seem to be from himself, and that the good in his will and the truth in his understanding seem to be his-indeed they seem to the man to be from himself and to be as completely his as though they really were; there is no difference; does anyone perceive otherwise by any sense? See above (nn. 74-77) on the appearance as of self, and (nn. 78-81) on appropriation as of oneself.  The only difference is the acknowledgment which a man ought to make, that he does good and thinks truth not of himself but from the Lord, and hence that the good he does and the truth he thinks are not his. So to think from some love of the will because it is the truth makes conjunction; for then a man looks to the Lord and the Lord looks on the man. [DP92]

I have been granted both to hear and see in the spiritual world what the difference is between those who believe that all good is from the Lord and those who believe that good is from themselves. Those who believe that good is from the Lord turn their faces to Him and receive the enjoyment and blessedness of good. Those who think that good is from themselves look to themselves and think they have merit. Looking to themselves, they perceive only the enjoyment of their own good which is the enjoyment not of good but of evil, for man’s own is evil, and enjoyment of evil perceived as good is hell. Those who have done good but believed it was of themselves, and who after death do not receive the truth that all good is from the Lord, mingle with infernal spirits and finally join them. Those who receive that truth, however, are reformed, though no others receive it than those who have looked to God in their life. To look to God in one’s life is nothing else than to shun evils as sins. [DP93]

The Lord’s conjunction with man and man’s reciprocal conjunction with the Lord is effected by loving the neighbor as one’s self and the Lord above all. To love the neighbor as one’s self consists simply in not acting insincerely or unjustly with him, not hating him or avenging one’s self on him, not cursing and defaming him, not committing adultery with his wife, and not doing other like things to him. Who cannot see that those who do such things do not love the neighbor as themselves? Those, however, who do not do such things because they are evils to the neighbor and at the same time sins against the Lord, deal sincerely, justly, amicably and faithfully by the neighbor; as the Lord does likewise, reciprocal conjunction takes place. And when conjunction is reciprocal, whatever a man does to the neighbor he does from the Lord, and what he does from the Lord is good. The neighbor to him then is not the person, but the good in the person. To love the Lord above all is to do no evil to the Word, for the Lord is in the Word, or to the holy things of the church, for He is in these, too, and to do no evil to the soul of another, for everyone’s soul is in the Lord’s hand. Those who shun these evils as monstrous sins against the Lord love Him above all else. None can do this except those who love the neighbor as themselves, for the two loves are conjoined. [DP94]

In view of the fact that there is a conjunction of the Lord with man and of man with the Lord, there are two tables of the Law, one for the Lord and the other for man. So far as man as of himself keeps the laws of his table, the Lord enables him to observe the laws of the Lord’s table.  A man, however, who does not keep the laws of his table, which are all referable to love for the neighbor, cannot do the laws of the Lord’s table, which are all referable to love for the Lord. How can a murderer, thief, adulterer, or false witness love God? Does reason not insist that to be any of these and to love God is a contradiction? Is not the devil such? Must he not hate God? But a man can love God when he abhors murder, adultery, theft and false witness, for then he turns his face away from the devil to the Lord; turning his face to the Lord he is given love and wisdom-these enter him by the face, and not by the back of the neck. As conjunction is accomplished only so, the two tables are called a covenant, and a covenant exists between two. [DP95]

Author: EMANUEL. SWEDENBORG (1688-1772)

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