Category — Self-humiliation
“‘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.
Self-humiliation; despisal of others in comparison with oneself, – a sermon on Arcana Coelestia 2327
“That the state of humiliation is the essential state of worship itself, comes from the fact that so far as the heart is humbled, so far the love of self and all the evil therefrom ceases; and so far as this ceases, so far the good and the true, that is, charity and faith, flow in from the Lord; for that which stands in the way of the reception of these is principally the love of self, in which there is contempt for others in comparison with oneself; hatred and revenge if self is not treated with honor; and also unmercifulness and cruelty; thus the worst evils of all, and unto these goods and trues cannot be introduced, for they are opposites.” (Arcana Coelestia, 2327.)
In our last sermon we treated of the worst evils which are hatred, and revenge, cunning and deceit, which include unmercifulness and cruelty.
But in the present sermon we will especially treat of the fifth interior evil that is often included in such a series as in our text, namely, “despising others in comparison with oneself.”
We are told that the higher angels regard themselves as least worthy of all and are therefore the farthest removed from despising others in comparison with themselves.
One of the most common and worst forms of despising others in com¬parison with oneself is on the basis of religion. There is the story of the Sunday school teacher who told the children the story of the Pharisee, “who stood and prayed within himself, God, I thank Thee that I am not as other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. While the publican, standing afar off, would not lift so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” The Sunday school teacher after speaking about this parable closed her class with the words, “Let us thank the Lord that we are not like the Pharisee.”
The Jews in their despisal thanked God that they were not like other peoples, and the Christians in their despisal of the Jews and Gentiles, thanked God as in the above story, that they were not like the Jewish Pharisee. Not that they necessarily do this openly but, as is said of the Pharisee, in prayer with himself.
In the New Church generally many tend to despise those in the Christian Church. In the Academy from its beginning there were those who despised those in Convention, and 3ome in the Lord’s New Church, who despise especially those in the General Church, and there are those in the General Church who despise those in the Lord’s New Church. It may be noted that the despisal is most strongly directed against those who are most closely spiritually related.