Category — misuse and abuse of the Doctrine
“Knowing that while they are not led by the Lord, the devil will lead and breathe in evils of all kinds such as hatreds, revenges, cunnings and deceits” (A.E. 1148)
The general teaching of the text is that man is, at all times, led either by the Lord, or by hell. This is a well known teaching of the Lord, but one which few believe in the life. Man’s nature is to seek for his own life, which appears to be neither of Heaven or of hell, but such a life is not possible. While we are not led by the Lord we are led by the devil. If we seek a life that is not continually from the Lord, the devil leads. The devil specifically signifies the love of self. A man who loves his own life is necessarily led by the love of self which inflows from hell.
When man permits himself to be so led, the devil inspires or breathes in evils of all kinds, such as hatreds and revenges, cunnings and deceits. It should be noted that hatreds and revenges are the evils of the will. Hatred is of the internal evil of the will, revenge, the external. Cunnings and deceits are the evils of the understanding, cunning, the internal evil, and deceit, the external.
We belong to a nation which is characterized by good-naturedness, tolerance and friendliness, and the whole of education in this land looks to the fostering of these virtues. When we therefore read that anger and revenge are the characteristic evils that the devil inspires, this seems foreign to our very nature.
To many it may appear that they have no enemies, and that they have a friendly feeling towards all. If generally recognized evils are condemned, no one is angry, and yet this apparent friendliness and tolerance is deceptive. What church appeared more tolerant and more in the desire to preserve freedom for the individual than the church in which we were brought up, – and yet how angry and intolerant it became at the manifestation of the internal sense of the Word. From this we can learn a lesson that applies to all.
For the most part, anger and revenge are not aroused by condemnation of what is generally recognized as evil, but by a judgment on what is believed to be good. Particularly is anger aroused when an external good or truth which was originally from the Lord, but in which the Lord no longer dwells, is soon in the light of an interior truth; for such a truth touches the apparent goods and truths which are dearest to a man, and cause him to react with what appears to him as righteous indignation, and appropriate punishment. So does the anger and revenge inspired by the devil appear to the man.
All evil and falsity arise from the separation of a good and truth of a lower degree from the good and truth of a higher degree, while regeneration consists in reducing the apparent goods and truths of a lower degree into subservience to the goods and truths of a higher degree, until they become genuine and servo the higher degree. This process continues in its ascent from one degree to another.
Consider the following illustration. If a man, living in a town near a well-loved and awe-inspiring mountain, beyond which lay a great range of mountains, were to rise on wings to a great height, then the near-by mountain would appear to sink until it appeared like an insignificant hill, while the great range of mountains in the distance would look greater, higher, and more magnificent than from below. If, on his return, he told the people of the town how insignificant and small their beloved mountain looked from on high, compared to the great range of mountains beyond, they would become angry. Hills and mountains represent loves and when from an elevation it is seen that the loves which are near and dear to a man are little and insignificant, compared to the loves that a man has only seen at a distance, his anger is aroused, and this tends to carry over into revenge.
“Forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12)
Or as in Luke :
“And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive everyone that is indebted to us.” (Luke 11:4.)
All things which a man has are from the Lord, whether they are celestial, spiritual, natural, or material things. They are given to man to use as if of himself. Man either uses these things according to Divine order, and then ascribes them with their use to the Lord, or he misuses them and abuses them, and ascribes them with their use to himself. All the gifts from the Lord which he ascribes to himself are debts, and when, from ascribing thorn to himself he abuses them, they become sins
But what is the nature of these debts?
First as to the more interior debts for which man must be forgiven:
A man is given a perception of certain true things of the internal sense of the Word. These true things are impressed on his internal memory and become cognitions there. In a following state a man fails to ascribe these cognitions to the Lord, but instead, by means of these cognitions he strives to acquire further true things from the internal sense of the ’’lord, but from himself. Due to the cognitions he knows he can in appearance do this, but they are stolen things, for which he is in debt to the Lord. They are things gotten by climbing up some other way, like a thief or a robber, instead of entering by moans of the Lord, who is the door.
Every man who is of the internal Church at times does this; wherefore he must come into a state of repentance, and pray, “Forgive us our debts, or our sins”
Again, a man applies the things of Doctrine to his life, but forgets that he cannot do this of himself, but solely from the Lord; wherefore he immediately falls into that which is meritorious, for which he must, after examining himself, repent, and ask forgiveness for this debt which he owes the Lord.
Observe how everywhere we can see stolen things, debts for which forgiveness is often not asked.
A young man or woman is granted an inspiration, which is a common thing in youth, on the basis of youthful innocence; but he soon becomes proud of his abilities; vanity takes hold of him, and he spoils his gifts.
An old man or woman who has experienced much during a long life becomes proud of his knowledge of life, with the result that he becomes more stupid than the young.
See how a man prides himself in his intelligence and how a woman prides herself in her womanly perception or intuition, with the immediate result that the man loses his intelligence and the woman her perception. As soon as a man thinks about his intelligence, and still more if he speaks about it, he becomes internally unintelligent; as soon as a woman from having had perceptions prides herself on her perceptions, and still more if she speaks about her perceptions, all perception leaves her. Wherefore if one does not continually ask forgiveness for one’s debts, one is carried away.