Category — Sincerity
“‘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.