Category — Love of self
Good Friday Service [on the love of self in relation to the things of the Word, the Doctrine and the Church]
“And as they did eat, He said, Amen I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. And they were exceeding sorrowful, and began every one of them to say unto Him, Lord is it I?
“And He answered and said, he that dippeth hand with Me in the dish, the name shall betray Me… Then Judas, who betrayed Him, answered and said, is it I? He said unto him, Thou hast said.”
If we are to come into the internal use of the Word, we should see that all things of the Word apply to ourselves, and that all the persons spoken of in the Word represent things that are in us.
We read: “The Lord being betrayed by Judas signifies that He was betrayed by the Jewish nation.” (Doctrine of Life 16)
Judas and the Jewish nation signifies the love of self. The Lord, with man, is love from the Lord into the Lord. It is nothing but the love of self which betrays the Lord in us.
The love of self is spoken of in three senses in the Word.
Concerning the favorable sense of the love of self we read: “The man, who is in the good of charity and faith, also loves himself and the world, but no otherwise than as a means to an end. With him the love, of self has regard to love of the Lord; for he loves himself as a means to the end that he may serve the Lord; and the love of the world has regard to love of the neighbor: for he loves the world as a means for the sake of the end that he may serve the neighbor.” (A.C. 7819)
“The reason the love of self and the love of the world are infernal loves, and the reason that man was able to come into them and thus destroy the will and understanding in himself, is that from creation the love of self and the love of the world are celestial; for they are loves of the natural man, which are of service to spiritual loves, as foundations are of service to houses. For from the love of self and the world man wills well to his body: he wants to be fed, clothed, and housed, to take thought for his household, to solicit employment for the sake of use, and even to be honored according to the dignity of the affairs which he administers, for the sake of obedience; and also to be delighted and recreated from the delights of the world. But all these things must be for the sake of the end which is use. For by these things he is in a state to serve the Lord, and to serve the neighbor. But where there is no love of serving the Lord and the neighbor, and only a love of serving himself from the world, then from being celestial, that love becomes infernal.” (D.L.W. 396)
There is an intermediate love of self which, while not good, can yet lead to goods, and there is the infernal love of self which makes hell for we read: “For example: if any one loves himself above others, and from this love studies to excel others in moral and civil life, in scientifics and doctrinal things, and to be exalted to dignities and also to wealth above others; and yet he acknowledges and adores God, performs offices to the neighbor from the heart, and does from conscience what is just and fair – the evil of this love of self is that with which good and truth can be mixed… Whereas, he who loves himself above others, and from this love despises others in comparison with himself, hates those who do not honor, and, as it were, adore him, and feels the delight of hatred and revenge – the evil of that love is that with which good and truth cannot be fixed; for they are contraries.” (A.C.3993.9)
The former evil of the love of self spoken of above can in time be purified and become the genuine love of self. While the latter love of self is totally infernal and must be cast out.
As we are frequently taught, the love of self, when not in the feet, is an infernal love which is the opposite of love into the Lord. If we are to have a further idea of this love we must come to a fuller idea of what love into the Lord is, and from this see the love of self which is its opposite.
We are taught that in the first place we are to love the Lord as to His essence and thence His person, and not the other way around. To love the Lord as to His essence is to love the Lord as to His Divine Love, His Divine Wisdom and as to His Divine use. No man can internally do this unless he is in the things of the Divine love, the Divine Wisdom, and the Divine Uses from the Lord. The Lord says, He that loveth Mo keepeth My Commandments, and the keeping of the Commandments of the Lord in the internal sense is nothing else than being in the things of Divine love, Divine wisdom and Divine use from the Lord.
We are taught that the Lord does more things for man every moment than can be comprehended in any number. While we can not comprehend the things of Infinite love, wisdom and use, which the Lord is doing for us every moment of our lives, we can comprehend a few of such things, and the more we advance the more of these things we can comprehend.
To love the visible Lord, in His Divine Human, is to love the Lord’s working or operation, His changing of our lives by regeneration; His constant effort to lead us away from our own proprial things into the things of eternal life. This is a tremendous work, and if our eyes are open we can see the Lord laboring to save us, out of His Great Love and Wisdom. At first we see this only occasionally, in great events of our life, in times of great joy or sorrow. If we become spiritual we see this in many things, and particularly in the spiritual things the Lord does for us through others, if we are in love to the neighbor. If a man should become celestial he would perceive some thing of the Lord’s love, wisdom and use in the Lord’s working in him from moment to moment. In every least event of his spiritual and natural life, he would perceive the Lord’s Divine Providence, and in this the Lord’s Divine Love and Wisdom. It therefore might be said: to love the Lord is to love His Divine Providence. The Divine Providence works in various ways; inmostly it works in ways that no angel or man can comprehend. The celestial can perceive the Lord’s presence, in the things of love and wisdom which are immediate from the Lord, and the wonder of the working of the Lord in the inmost of their mind.
“‘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.
“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.
“Amen, Amen, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringth forth much fruit. He that loveth his life shall lose it: and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal” (John 12:24-25).
Our text commences with the words “Amen, Amen”, or, as in the King James version of the Bible “Verily, Verily”, or it might be said “Truly, Truly”. When the Lord said “Amen, Amen”, it means that what follows is of the greatest importance.
The word “Amen” comes from the Hebrew word meaning the true. The repetition of the word “Amen” means that the true must be received in both the understanding and in the will, and thus this true must rule in the whole of man’s life.
On account of the great importance of the teaching of our text, this teaching is given in different terms seven times in the New Testament. “He that loveth father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he that taketh not up his cross, and followeth after Me is not worthy of Me. He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for My sake shall find it.” (Matthew 10:37-39) “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.” (Matthew 16:24,25) And nearly the same words are repeated in Mark 8:34,35 and in Luke 9:23,24. In Luke 17:33 it is said “Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it, and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.”
In the Apocalypse it is said: “And they loved not their soul, even unto death.” (12:11)
In explication of these texts we read: “And they loved not their souls unto death”,…signifies the faithful who have endured temptation, and who have regarded the life of the world as of no account in comparison with the life of Heaven.” (A.E.750)
Again “Jesus said Except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abideth alone; but if it die, it bringth forth much fruit.