Category — Essence of the love of self, longing to be loved by others with the unregenerate man
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.
“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.