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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
The Ethics of Swedenborg: The Spiritual Life: How it is Acquired
By Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772)
 
From ‘Apocalypse Explained’

SPIRITUAL life is acquired solely by a life according to the commandments in the Word. These commandments are given in a summary in the Decalogue; namely, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet the goods of others. These commandments are the commandments that are to be done; for when a man does these his works are good and his life is spiritual, and for the reason that so far as a man shuns evils and hates them, so far he wills and loves goods.  1
  For there are two opposite spheres that surround man, one from hell, the other from heaven: from hell a sphere of evil and of falsity therefrom, from heaven a sphere of good and of truth therefrom; and these spheres do [not immediately] affect the body, but they affect the minds of men; for they are spiritual spheres, and thus are affections that belong to the love. In the midst of these man is set; therefore so far as he approaches the one, so far he withdraws from the other. This is why so far as a man shuns evil and hates it, so far he wills and loves good and the truths therefrom; for no one can at the same time serve two masters, for he will either hate the one and love the other, or he will cleave to the one and despise the other (Matt. vi. 24).  2
  But let it be noted that man must do these commandments from religion, because they are commanded by the Lord; and if he does this from any other consideration whatever,—for instance, from regard merely to the civil law or the moral law,—he remains natural, and does not become spiritual. For when a man acts from religion, he acknowledges in heart that there is a God, a heaven and a hell, and a life after death. But when he acts from regard merely to the civil and moral law, he may act in the same way, and yet in heart may deny that there is a God, a heaven and a hell, and a life after death. And if he shuns evil and does good, it is merely in the external form, and not in the internal; thus while he is outwardly in respect to the life of the body like a Christian, inwardly in respect to the life of his spirit he is like a devil. All this makes clear that a man can become spiritual, or receive spiritual life, in no other way than by a life according to religion from the Lord.  3
  Many, I know, think in their heart that no one can of himself shun the evils enumerated in the Decalogue, because man is born in sins and has therefore no power of himself to shun them. But let such know that any one who thinks in his heart that there is a God, that the Lord is the God of heaven and earth, that the Word is from him and is therefore holy, that there is a heaven and a hell, and that there is a life after death, has the ability to shun these evils. But he who despises these truths and casts them out of his mind, and still more he who denies them, is not able. For how can one who never thinks about God think that anything is a sin against God? And how can one who never thinks about heaven, hell, and the life after death, shun evils as sins? Such a man does not know what sin is.  4
  Man is placed in the middle between heaven and hell. Out of heaven goods unceasingly flow in, and out of hell evils unceasingly flow in; and as man is between, he has freedom to think what is good or to think what is evil. This freedom the Lord never takes away from any one, for it belongs to his life, and is the means of his reformation. So far therefore as man from this freedom has the thought and desire to shun evils because they are sins, and prays to the Lord for help, so far does the Lord take them away, and give man the ability to refrain from them as if of himself, and then to shun them.  5
 
 
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