Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all things shall be added unto you (Matt. 6:33)

Category — Self-exploration, self-examination

Sermon on Heaven and Hell 480, 481

“Man after death continues such as his will or ruling love is. The man who has celestial and spiritual love goes to heaven; while the man who has bodily and worldly loves and no celestial and spiritual love goes to hell.” (H.H. 480, 481)

Much is said in the Word about man’s ruling or dominating love.

We are taught in many places that one’s place in Heaven or in hell, ones place in a society of heaven or hell is according to ones ruling or dominating love, and that after death this ruling love cannot be changed to eternity. This subject is therefore of the greatest importance. Regeneration consists in the change of the ruling love; the rejection of an evil ruling love and the acquiring of a new ruling love from the Lord.

With those in external states the important thing is an obedience to the commandments; but the Lord wills those of the New Church to be internal men and women. Thus to take heed not only to what they say and do, but to take heed as to their loves.

It is often thought that man cannot know the internal of himself and of others, but carefully note the following teaching. We read:

“All the delights that a man has are the delights of his ruling love, for he feels nothing to be delightful except what he loves, thus especially what he loves above all things. These delights are various. In general, there are as many as there are ruling loves, consequently as many as there are men, spirits and angels; for no one’s ruling love is in every respect like that of another.

Only from a knowledge of correspondences can it be known what spiritual delights every one’s natural delights are changed into after death, and what kind of delights they are. In particular it teaches what it is that corresponds, and what kind of a thing it is. Therefore, any one that has this knowledge can ascertain and know what his own state after death will be, if he only knows what his love is and what its relation is to the universally ruling loves spoken of above, to which all loves have relation. But it is impossible for those who are in the love of self to know what their ruling love is, because they love what is their own, and call their evils goods; and the falsities that they incline to and by which they confirm their evils they call truths. And yet if they were willing they might know it from others who are wise, and who see what they themselves do not see. This, however, is impossible with those who are so enticed by the love of self that they spurn all teaching of the wise.” (H.H.487)

All spiritual charity has to do with becoming regenerate and being of assistance to the neighbor in his or her regeneration. And, as we have said; regeneration and thence salvation, consists in the changing and then the perfecting of the ruling love.

We are told that one’s delights are entirely according to the ruling loves; wherefore if a man knows the nature of the delights of himself and of others, he knows the ruling love of himself and of others… But as stated in the above quotation, no one can know this unless he knows the correspondence between spiritual delights and natural delights and is wise.

Read the full paper on Heaven and Hell 480, 481 by Rev. Theodore Pitcairn


Sermon on Genesis 8:12

“And he stayed yet other seven days, and sent forth the dove, and she returned not again unto him any more.” (Gen. 8:12)

He stayed yet other seven days, signifies a second holy state in which the Lord is still more manifestly present with man. And sent forth the dove signifies a new receiving of the goods and truths of faith. And she returned not again unto him any more, signifies a free state.

Concerning the free state signified by the dove not returning we read in the Third Lesson as follows:

“So long as he was in the ark, he was in a state of slavery… When man has been regenerated, he for the first time comes into a state of freedom, having before been in a state of slavery. It is slavery when cupidities and falsities rule, and freedom when the affections of the good and the true do so… When he is in a state of slavery, that is when cupidities and falsities rule, the man, who is under subjugation to them, supposes that he is in a state of freedom; but this is a gross falsity, for he is then carried away by the delight of cupidities and their pleasures, that is by the delights of his love, and because this is done by delights, it appears to him as freedom… It is quite unknown to very many what a life of freedom is… A life of freedom, or freedom, is simply and solely being led by the Lord.” (A.C. 891, 2)

“The more present the Lord, the more free the man; that is, the more man is in the love of the good and the true, the more freely he acts. Such is the influx of the Lord through the angels. But on the other hand, the influx of hell through evil spirits is forcible and impetuous, striving to dominate, so that he may be nothing, and that they may be everything.” (A.C. 905)

The above is a well known teaching in the New Church, and also known in the first Christian Church; for the Lord, when in the world taught as follows:

“If ye continue in My word ye shall be My disciples and the truth shall make you free… Amen, amen, I say unto you, whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin… If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. (John 8:30-36)

But while this truth is known, still it is not known, for it is not understood.

In general, those in the New Church think that they are in the truth and that they are therefore free, while others who do not have the truth, given by the Lord in His Second Coming, do not have the truth and are therefore not free. That this is a false idea is evident from this, that the freedom spoken of in our text, is one of the last states of regeneration; many states of reformation, temptation and regeneration have to be passed through before a man comes to this state of freedom. Few come to this state of freedom in this world, although, all who are being reformed or regenerated, come into this state of freedom in heaven.

When the Lord said, “The truth shall make you free”, it is not meant that the knowledges of truth will make you free; for there are many who have an abundance of the knowledges of truth in their memory, who can speak about them intelligently, and can explain them maybe better than others, and yet who are by no means free, but are under the dominion of cupidities and falsities.

The truth, which makes you free, is not the truth in the memory, but the truth in the life. All truth continually flows into man from the Lord, and is received in the knowledges of truth which man has acquired from without.

Read the full sermon on Genesis 8:12 by Rev. Theodore Pitcairn


Self-exploration, self-examination


The Third Testament places great importance on self-exploration. It is taught that a man must repent of his evils, in order that the Lord may save him. And it is taught that actual repentance is to explore one self, to see one’s own evils, to acknowledge them, confess them, and to desist from them. This is called the Christian Religion itself in the Divine Providence 278. As stated in the True Christian Religion 528, ”Actual Repentance is to explore self, to cognize and acknowledge one’s sins, to make supplication to the Lord, and to begin a new life.” Self-exploration is the beginning of repentance. From the Word, and from the Doctrine of the Church out of the Word, man knows what evils are, and that they are sins against the Lord, preventing the reception of the Lord’s life, the life of Heaven, with man. The whole purpose of man’s knowing and understanding these things is that he might see them in him­self and shun them as sins against the Lord. In this class we will treat of the teachings of the Word and of the Doctrine of the Church about the seeing of evils in oneself which is by self exploration.

At the outset we would lay stress on the truth that the purpose of the exploration is to see one’s evils. It is not to see whether there are goods or evils in one’s life, but to see the evils there. Some have supposed that the exploration is to see whether they have acted out of good, or whether out of evil. In relation to repentance the Word says nothing at all about finding whether one has acted out of good; the whole purpose is to see the evils in oneself and repent of them.

In general, the instruction given in the Word about self-exploration is as follows;

1. That man should explore the acts of his life. (True Christian Religion 525.) This is the most external exploration. One may wonder why this explora­tion is necessary, since everyone knows what one has done. But one might very well have said or done something which is contrary to the broader natural meaning of the Commandments which he would not notice in himself except by reflection. You might say or do something against another without realizing that it is wrong, or even under the supposition at the time that it was good to say or do it. For example, one may defame another, destroying his good name, a thing which is forbidden under the Commandment not to kill, and also under not to bear false witness. (True Christian Religion 309,321.) Reflection on one’s deeds and words is therefore necessary, and should not be neglected. But it is also taught that exploration of the deeds and speech is not sufficient. This is be­cause from the love of one’s own honor, reputation and gain, one may clean up the external life which appears before others. One may put away all external evils of the body, not because they are sins against God, but because they are hurtful to one’s own selfish purposes in life. This teaching, however, must not be used as an excuse for not exploring our deeds and speech. It is possible and necessary for a man to see and shun such external evils as sins against the Lord. And this is the beginning of repentance. As said in the footnote to the Doctrine of Charity, number 5, if the exploration is only as to acts, it does not find much, and this is not sufficient.

Read the full doctrinal class on self-exploration by Rev. P.N. Odhner