Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all things shall be added unto you (Matt. 6:33)

Category — Cunning and deceit

Notes on the Teachings of the Word concerning Divorce


It is needful for the Church to consider the interior causes of the laws of divorce given in the Word. By this all may come to a deeper understand­ing and love of the Conjugial, and of the uses of marriage, and hy this the Church may he protected against doubts and false reasonings about those laws. Doubts may arise because the laws of divorce are very strict, and in some cases their severity appears to bring much hardship on men. False reasonings about those laws may arise especially from this, that the laws of divorce in the World of Spirits are altogether different from those given for this world; from this some may suppose that in an interior state of the Church with man, the laws which apply there should take the place of the laws which apply in this world. An understanding of the interior causes of the laws of divorce will protect the Church from such doubts and such reasonings.

First we would draw your attention to the distinction between the Conjugial which must be received from the Lord in every man of the Church and the Corljugial union which may be formed between husband and wife. That there is such a distinction is well known from the teaching that Love Conjugial may be given with one married partner and not at the same time with the other. (C.L. 226, 531.) For the most part, however, this distinction has been over­looked in the past. Whenever the Conjugial, or Love Conjugial, has been men­tioned, the thought with most has been only of the Conjugial union between husband and wife. As a consequence, the importance which the Word places upon the Conjugial which is to be received and formed in each man of the Church has not been noticed; many teachings which apply in the first place to the Conjugial in each man, have been applied only to the Conjugial union between the married partners.

Consider the following teachings of the Word about the Conjugial in each man:

That the Conjugial is the desire of living with one partner, and that every step made from religion and into religion is a step from the Conjugial and into the Conjugial. (C.L, 80.)

That Love truly Conjugial is from the Lord, and is with those who approach Him directly, and who love the trues of the Church and do its goods* (C.L. 70.)

That this Conjugial is inscribed on the minds of those who acknowledge the Lord and His Divine. (C.L. 338.)

That this Conjugial is the precious jewel of human life and the repository of the Christian Religion. (C.L. 457, 458, 466, 531)

That it is chief among the essentials of human life, and that so far as a man is in this love he is spiritual, and so far as he should lose this love he approaches the nature of a beast. (First Index to Angelic Wisdom concerning Marriage, under “Conjugial”, and C.L. 230.)

That this Conjugial is guarded in man, whatsoever the state of marriage he may be in. (C.L, 531.)

Read these numbers carefully and you will see that it is the Conjugial with each man that is described in them. This Conjugial is with all men who acknowledge the Divine Human of the Lord in love and faith, and who live the life of religion. It is with all such men whether they in this life are married or not, and if married, whether or not they have been blessed with a Conjugial union with their partner. This Conjugial is of the utmost importance to the salvation and regeneration of the man of the Church. It is the first thing in the natural produced by man’s acknowledgment of the Divine of the Lord. It is the connecting link and bond between the internal things with man and his natural life. It is the principal and beginning of the descent of the celestial and spiritual with man into his natural, and serves as a plane there for the recep­tion of them. No doubt this is one of the reasons why a whole book of the Word is devoted to Love Conjugial. If this Conjugial should be destroyed in a man, nothing of regeneration would be possible.

The Lord has ordered all things of Christian marriage for the recep­tion and protection of this Conjugial with man, and also for the forming of a Conjugial union of husband and wife. The laws of marriage and the laws of divorce are given for both of these precious things. If a man of the Church should violate the laws of divorce, he is in the danger of harming the Conjugial in himself, as well as doing harm to the Church and to society in general. This is evident from what is said about a Christian who enters into polygamy, (C.L. 339), namely, that he profanes the marriage of the Lord and the Church.

Read that number and you will see that the same danger is present with those who obtain a divorce without just cause.

One with whom there is the Conjugial strives wholeheartedly for union with the married partner. Such a one does not put away the partner, even if that union is clearly absent, nor even if it appears to be impossible, but strives for such a conjunction as may be possible. This is evident from the following teaching:

“That these conjugial simulations, with a spiritual man conjoined to a natural, savor out of justice and judgment. The reason is because a spiritual man does what he does out of justice and judgment, where­fore he does not see these simulations as estranged from his internal affections, but as joined with them. For he acts seriously, and re­gards amendment as the end, and if this does not follow, he regards accommodation, for the sake of order in the house, for the sake of mutual aid, for the sake of the care of infants, for the sake of peace and tranquility. To these things he is led out of justice, and out of judgment he gives them into effect. That a spiritual man so cohabits with a natural man, is because a spiritual man acts spiritually, even with one who is natural.” (C.L. 280.)

A spiritual man, that is, one with whom is the Conjugial, strives for the ammendment of life with a partner who has it not. Although he is not in a union of souls and minds with that partner, he loves the spiritual  welfare of the partner, and strives for it. Such a one would never put the partner away except for the causes given in the laws of divorce. To do such a thing would be to act against the conjugial striving in himself, and thus to act against the Conjugial itself.

It should be noted that the love of the spiritual welfare of one’s married partner must lie at the heart of any marriage, for without it there can be neither the Conjugial in oneself nor a Conjugial union with one’s partner. Even in those marriages in which the husband and wife live happily together, no union of souls and minds can take place unless the spiritual welfare of the married partner is held uppermost in the marriage. Without this, marriage would have in it only a natural conjugial, an apparent conjunction of minds arising out of external harmonies alone.

From these things it can be seen that the Conjugial in each man is not endangered by a marriage in which a Conjugial union has not been effected, but that it is endangered by the putting away of a married partner without a just cause in agreement with the laws of divorce given in the Word. This is an interior reason for the severity of the laws of divorce, and for the law that matrimony is to continue to the end of life in the world even though there be colds in relation to the Conjugial.

A further reason underlying these laws is that, except in the case outlined in the laws of divorce, no final judgment is to be made on a marriage in this world, as to whether something of a Conjugial union has been or may be formed within it. This is because the internal similitudes on which the essential conjunction of marriage rests are not primarily attributes of natural birth and native compatibility, but of the new birth of reformation and regeneration. So far as possible the Lord’s Providence Works for the formation of these internal similitudes, and thus for the new creation of the husband and wife for one another, during the whole course of their life in the world. A spiritual man, even though he may see that a Conjugial union is not yet present in his marriage, still would strive toward that union, and would not make any final judgment against its possibility.

From all these considerations it can be understood why it is said in the “Statement as to the Principle concerning Divorce,” that if the Church or the man of the Church violates the laws of order in respect to marriage, the Conjugial itself, which is the precious jewel of human life and the repository of the Christian Religion, is violated, and that then the Divine Human of the Lord, from which the Conjugial descends, cannot be present in the Church.

Respecting divorce in the World of Spirits, the Word teaches as follows:

That married partners meet after death, consociate, and for some time live together as before in the world; this takes place in their first state in the World of Spirits, while they are in external things as before in the world; that successively, as they put off external things, and enter into their in­ternals, they perceive the quality of the love and inclination which they mutually had for each other, and thence they perceive whether they can live as one or not; that if they can live as one, they remain married partners, but if not, they separate; that there is then given to the man a suitable wife, and to the woman a suitable husband. (C.L. 47b, 48b, 49, 50.) In that world divorce is granted when there is no similarity in their affections. (Memorabilia 6027.)

The separation of unsuitable partners in the World of Spirits is according to the law of the Spiritual World that external things must altogether agree with internal things in angels and spirits. They who differ in love and faith cannot live near each other, much less live in the same house. This general law of the Spiritual World is essential to life in that world, and there can be made no exception to it. But the general law of the natural world is that here external things must remain fixed in order that internal things may be changed and formed in man. Any essential change in the spirit or mind of man must be initiated in this world. This general law for the natural world is ex­pressed in this teaching of the Word: “Mutation of organization is given solely in the material body, and is not at all givable in the spiritual body after the former has been rejected.” (Brief Exposition 110.) This law involves the whole reason for our being bom in the natural world.. If the laws governing the Spiri­tual World were to be applied outwardly to life in this world, if there were no fixed external order, independent, as it were, from the internal states of men, no reformation or regeneration could take place in this life. There would be no freedom of choice possible for man, for there would be nothing by which man could reflect upon his internal things, and by which he could cooperate with the Lord in changing them.

Consider what would take place, for example, if the law that riches in the Spiritual World are in accordance with the wisdom of the angels, were to be applied outwardly in this life. If that law were to be applied here, no man would be free to reject wisdom, and no man would be free to love and receive wisdom for its own sake. If such laws were to be applied outwardly in this life, man would be compelled in the things of religion, which is against the Law of the Divine Providence, All life in this world would in such a case be impossible.

If the laws of divorce in the World of Spirits were to be applied to this world, there would be no fixed order by which the Conjugial in each man could be formed and developed in marriage. And if the Conjugial had already been formed in a man, such an application of those laws to his life in this world would be contrary to his Conjugial longing, and destructive of it. More­over, by the application of the laws of divorce in the World of Spirits to this life, marriages here would be exposed to all kinds of phantasy and cupidity, and a truly Christian society would be made impossible.

The things brought forward in the “Statement of the International Interior Council as to the Principle concerning Divorce” are vital for the Church. May it serve to awaken all of us to the Life that is in the ’Word, and to our need of being fully instructed in that Life. The Life that is in all things of the Word is the Life of the Lord’s Divine Human. All the laws of the Word, and all things of the Church, look to the ordering of human life in order that the Lord’s Life may be present and may be received within it. It is our hope that this Statement may serve this end.

The Rev, Philip N. Odhner

President of the International Council of Priests

October 17th, I960


“‘That the devil may not seduce them and put evils into their hearts; knowing that while they are not led by the Lord, he leads and breathes in evils of every kind, such as hatreds, revenges, cunnings, deceits as a serpent breathes in poisons.” [AE 1148]


As is generally known in the Church the devil in the most general sense stands for hell. In a less general sense as when compared to Satan, the devil stands for the hell opposed to the celestial kingdom, while Satan stands for the hell opposed to the spiritual kingdom. In the abstract sense the devil stands for the love of self; for it is the love of self which forms the hell opposed to the celestial kingdom while it is the love of the world which makes the hell opposed to the spiritual kingdom. To seduce, as to its roots, means to lead aside, or lead astray, that is, to lead off the way. The Lord said: “I am the way.” The Lord Himself is the strait and narrow path which leads to heaven. The moment the man does not live in the presence of the Lord, he is off the path of life, he has been seduced, or led astray.

Inmostly seen it is nothing but the love of self inflowing from the hells, which seduces man, or leads him astray, takes him away from the way which is the Lord. The Lord with a mighty force works to keep man on this holy way, the hells work with all their power to seduce him or lead him out of the way. It is said that the devil seduces them and puts evils into their heart; or what is the same, it is the love of self that seduces men and puts evils into their hearts. Let us therefore consider the nature of the love of self further in order that we may see why this is so.

In order to consider this matter more deeply we will quote again a number from the Journal of Dreams which was quoted in the sermon last week.

“I perceived that I was unworthy above others and the greatest of sinners for the Lord has granted me to go more deeply with my thoughts in certain matters than many others have done; and I perceived that here lies the very fountain of sin viz. in thoughts which are brought to the work; so that in this manner my sins come from a deeper source than in the case of many other persons. Herein I perceived my unworthiness and my sins to be greater than those of others; for it is not enough to call oneself unworthy, for this may be done while the heart is far away from it, and it may be a pretense, but to perceive that one is such this is the grace of the spirit. I thought and strove by means of my thoughts to gain a knowledge of how to avoid all that is impure, but I noticed nevertheless that on all occasions something from the love of self intruded itself and was turned about in the thought; as for instance, when any one did not show the proper regard for me, according to ray own imagination, I always thought ‘If you only knew what grace I am enjoying you would act otherwise’ which at once was something impure having its source in the love of self. After a while I perceived this and prayed God to forgive it…  Thus I observed clearly there was still with me that pernicious apple which has not yet been converted which is the root of Adam and hereditary sin, yea, and an infinite number of other roots of sin are with me.” (74, 75)

From the above we can see that the very root of evil called the devil, resides in feeling and thinking oneself superior to others.. This is the first state. In the case of Swedenborg, he recognized and from the Lord he combated against this so that it did not proceed further.

Read the full sermon on AE 1148 (year 1952) by Rev. Theodore Pitcairn


“Such as hatreds, revenges, cunnings, deceits, as a serpent breathes in poisons.” [A sermon on AE 1148]

Hatreds, revenges, cunnings, deceits, describe the internal and external evils in relation to the will and the understanding.

Hatred, is of the will, and revenges are the acts which proceed from the will. Cunning is of the understanding and deceits, are the acts which come forth from this cunning.

To view these evils we must see them as the opposites of goods. Hatreds are the opposite of loves; revenges are the opposite of showing mercies, and doing good; cunning is the opposite of innocence; and deceit is the opposite of acting sincerely.

Every one has a natural idea of these goods and their opposite evils. But such goods and such evils in the natural man do not differ much from such loves and acts with animals. What such evils are in the internal sense is hidden in the internal sense of the Word.

While the evils spoken of in the external sense of the Word are natural evils, this does not mean that this sense is not important to us. In the early states of reformation these are the only evils we see, and if in such states we do not combat and overcome them, we can never come to more interior states in which we must see and combat against more interior evils.

One who does not combat against natural hatred, can never be brought to see what interior hatred is; one who does not combat against natural revenge, can never come to see what interior revenge is; one who does not combat against natural cunnings and deceits, can never come to recognize interior cunnings and deceits. We must first come to recognize these natural evils in ourselves, and come to have a horror of them; and thus be brought to the goods of the natural to which these evils are opposed.

Any one who reflects can easily observe how, when one opposes him, or resists him, particularly in relation to his ruling loves, or ignores him, or fails to respect or honor him, or even pays insufficient attention to him; how he tends to become angry with such a one, and tends to take revenge, by hurting him or by speaking ill of him.

One can also easily observe, if he reflects, how he cunningly strives to accomplish his own ends, how he puts on appearances to persuade others, how he says things which are not exactly true, or gives a twist to things to take advantage of others.

There is nothing more important to begin with, than by shunning cunning and deceits to come to a natural innocence, and sincerity in all things of our natural life. This first natural innocence and sincerity is not however, natural innocence and sincerity itself. It is only after shunning interior cunning and deceit, and thereby coming to an interior innocence and sincerity, that a new nat¬ural can come into existence in which there is natural innocence and sincerity itself out of the Divine Human of the Lord, who is innocence itself.

Read the full sermon on AE 1148 by Rev. Theodore Pitcairn (year 1959)


“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.

Read the full sermon on AE 1148 by Rev. Theodore Pitcairn (year 1947)


“Thou shalt not steal” by Rev. P.N.Odhner

“Thou shalt not steal.” (Exodus 20:15)

All the Ten Precepts of the Decalogue look to the universal reigning of the Divine Human in all things of man’s love and faith, in all the good and true with man, in all things of his will and understanding. If this end is not with us in the keeping of the Precepts, then they become with us a mere moral and civil code, less than they are with the gentiles. The goods which are commanded in these Precepts are the Lord’s. They are the goods which He made receptible to men when He fought and suffered to glorify His Human. The evils forbidden in these precepts are the evils which prevent the reception of the goods and trues of the Divine Human in the mind of man. They prevent the Lord’s reigning universally in the goods and trues in the love and faith with man. For this cause alone they are sins against God. The man of the Church should hot think of these Precepts in any other way. If the man of the Church does think of these Precepts in any other way, and we must face the fact that often we do think of them in another way, then it is because the thought is influenced by one or another of the evils forbidden in them.

Of the seventh Precept, “Thou shalt not steal,” it is said in the Arcana Coelestia: “Thou shalt not steal, signifies that his spiritual goods must not be taken away from anyone, and that those things which are the Lord’s must not be attributed to self.” (Arcana Coelestia 8905.)

Looked at from a merely natural viewpoint, the evil of theft does not appear as bad as the evil of murder or of adultery. But it is said in the Word that this evil enters more deeply into man than other evils, because it is conjoined with cunning and deceit. (Doctrine of Life 81.) It is a colder crime, in which the understanding of a man is closely involved. There is a conscious use of the false in this evil. There are two great evils with men from which all others spring, the love of commanding all things from the love of self, and the love of possessing all things from the love of the world. One is of the love of evil, and the other of the love of the false.

Looking from the outside inwards, the love of the world is a lesser evil than the love of self, the love of possessing is a lesser evil than the love of commanding all things, the false is lesser than the evil. But if we regard things as they proceed from within towards the outside, then we can see that there is a love of possessing all things which originates from the love of commanding all things, there is a love of the world which is out of the love of self, and there is the false which is out of evil. And these are more developed, hardened, confirmed forms of those terrible evils, and are deeper. In this series, the false is worse than the evil. The false is the last refuge of the evil, and it is the very stronghold of the evil in the human mind. From this stronghold the evil can win back to itself the whole mind by its cunning and deceit. In this we can see that the latter Commandments forbid evil ‘and false things which are worse than the things forbidden in the former.

Read the full sermon on Exous 20:15 (Thou shalt not steal) by Rev. P.N.Odhner


“Thou shalt not steal” by Rev. Theodore Pitcairn

“Thou Shalt Not Steal”

We read: “Amen, amen, I say unto you, he that entereth not by the door into sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before Me are thieves and robbers. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill and to destroy. I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10: 1, 7-10)

All goods and truths which a man has from the Word and the Church out of his own will and his own understanding are stolen things, in which the Lord is not present, and which therefore lack an internal. Wherefore we read: “If the rational is consulted the Doctrine becomes null and void.” Unless a man has given up the life of his proprial will and understanding he always consults his rational, and then ail things from the Word and from the Doctrine of the Church are with him stolen things, an external without an internal.

Do we not see with every man, that strong tendency to steal. In churches generally, we see an effort to increase the Church in numbers, power and prestige, by appealing to the proprial will and understanding of men and women. Appeals are made to the natural affections, and the intel-lect is flattered. Or where this is not done, threats and anathema, are used to inspire fear, fear of hell, and fear of losing the pleasures of heaven. Let us not think that we are free of such dangers.

We are told that the devils are not averse to worshipping God the Father, but they are averse to the Lord in His Divine Human. The Father is the Lord the Creator, the Divine Human is the Lord the Redeemer. Man is not averse to acknowledging God the Creator, but he is, by hereditary nature, averse to acknowledging the Lord the Redeemer, for he is averse to Redemption. He is not willing, from his proprium, to acknowledge that, “A total damnation stands before the door and threatens.” The door of both his will and understanding, for he trusts in the rationality he has from creation and in his instinctive good feelings, which he has from birth. To give up trust in these is to give up his life, and this he does not easily do.

There is an expression commonly used, “appealing to a man’s better instincts,” such an expression implies a climbing up some other way like a thief and a robber, and not entering through the door, that is the Lord Who is the door. The man of the Most Ancient Church did indeed have human instincts by creation, instincts of love into Good and towards his neighbor, for he was born into the order of his life. We are not born into the order of our life, and if we appeal to man’s better instincts, we climb up some other way, and come to apparent goods and truths, which are only externals without internals. Man’s internals are formed by innocence from the Lord, and a man cannot be in innocence from the Lord unless he believes, that it is solely by the Lord’s undergoing temptation in him, and by His overcoming and subjugating the hells which rule in him, that he can be saved. The moment a man loses this perception he is a thief and steals.

Every young man and woman is given gifts from the Lord: the young man particularly, a kind of youthful understanding of truth, an enthusiasm for it, and a youthful ideal of usefulness.

But the young man begins to steal the understanding of the truths he has been given and make them favor himself, and his own ends. He loses the innocence of youth, and thus the internal is stolen away. He must then look to the Lord for a new understanding in which there can be formed a new good of innocence, and must repent of his theft.

Read the full doctrinal class on “thou shalt not steal” by Rev. Theodore Pitcairn