Category — Hatred, Revenge, Enmity, Anger
“‘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.
“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.
“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.
“From the love of self springs contempt of others, in comparison with self, then the derision and abuse of them, afterwards enmity if they do not favor, and finally the delight of hatred, the delight of revenge, thus the delight of violence, nay of cruelty” (A.C. 9348).
Everyone is born into the love of self; but this love does not, at first, appear to man, and often not to others, in its ugliness. It often hides under the appearance of love towards others and even under the appearance of love into the Lord.
This love can only be discovered in its .affects. The first of these effects if the contempt of others in comparison with ourselves, but even this evil, which is the most prevalent, seeks to hide itself; it hides itself behind the love of things which are one’s own. Observe how men of all nations despise other nations in comparison with their own; how members of churches despise other churches in comparison with their own; how one despises other families in comparison with one’s own family; how one despises other professions in comparison with one’s own profession. If one is scientific, acute or learned how one despises those who are not scientific, acute or learned. If one is artistic or sensitive how one despises those who are not artistic or sensitive. If one is sociable, and affable, how such a one despises those who are not sociable or affable. If one is generous and kindly how such a one despises those who are less generous and kindly. If one is subtle in understanding, influencing or persuading others, how one despises those who have not such talents. If one is quick at grasping the things of the Word and doctrinals thence, one despises those who do this with difficulty. Everyone finds things by means of which he despises others in comparison with himself, and from which he holds others, particularly those who do not agree with himself, in contempt. The evil despise the good, either thinking or calling them hypocrites.
The contempt of others in comparison with self is more in evidence, and is of a mere interior quality with those who cling ardently to their church than with others.
One who knows many truths of faith can more clearly see the evils and falsities of others, than those who have not such truths, but unless he is in humility he does not see his own evils and falsities. Seeing the evils and falsities of others he is in greater contempt of others in comparison with himself than are those who do not have truths of faith. The more truths of faith one has, if the love of self is not shunned, the more the contempt of others in comparison with self grows, until it despises all in the universe in comparison with oneself.
From the contempt of others there arises derision and abuse of them. Observe how much so-called humor has in it contempt of others, – derision, ridicule, and mockery; observe the great delight felt in such derision and ridicule. Observe also the delight in the abuse of others, in criticizing, and in speaking of their faults, especially in regard to those who do not favor ourselves. Finally such an attitude breaks forth in an attitude of enmity towards those who do not favor ourselves, or our own.
Let anyone observe his attitude towards those who are critical of him, or are critical of his family, his country, or his church, and do not favor him, and see if a feeling of enmity is not present towards them. How few there are who are not delighted when misfortune overtakes those who have been critical of them, or their own and have manifested disfavor towards them.