EVIL >> Hells >> Thick Darkness >> Envy >> Hatred >> Revenge
Unmercifulness >> Cruelty >> Contempt for Divine >> Hostility to Divine Things


evil_500_332By rationality is meant the capacity to understand what is true and thereby what is false, also to understand what is good and thereby what is evil; and by freedom is  meant the capacity to think, will and do these things freely. From what precedes it is evident, and it will become more evident from what follows, that every man from creation, consequently from birth, has these two capacities, and that they are from the Lord; that they are not taken away from man; that from them is the appearance that man thinks, speaks, wills, and acts as from himself; that the Lord dwells in these capacities in every man, that man by virtue of that conjunction lives to eternity; that man by means of these capacities can be reformed and regenerated, but not without them; finally, that by them man is distinguished from beasts. [DLW264] 

 That the origin of evil is from the abuse of these capacities will be explained in the following order: 

(1)          A bad man equally with a good man enjoys these two capacities.

(2)          A bad man abuses these capacities to confirm evils and falsities, but a good man uses them to confirm goods and truths.

(3)          Evils and falsities confirmed in man are permanent, and come to be of his love, consequently of his life.

(4)          Such things as have come to be of the love and life are engendered in offspring.

(5)          All evils, both engendered and acquired, have their seat in the natural mind. [DLW265] 

Again, love of self is such that so far as the reins are given it, that is, so far as external bonds are removed, which are fears of the law and its penalties, and of the loss of reputation, honor, gain, employment, and life, so far it rushes on until it finally longs to rule not only over the entire world but also over the entire heaven, and over the Divine Himself, knowing no limit or end. This propensity lurks hidden in everyone who is in love of self, although it is not manifest to the world, where it is held in check by such bonds as have been mentioned. Everyone can see examples of this in potentates and kings who are subject to no such restraints and bonds, but rush on and subjugate provinces and kingdoms so far as they are successful, and aspire to power and glory without limit; and still more strikingly in the Babylon of this day, which has extended its dominion into heaven, and has transferred to itself all the Divine power of the Lord, and continually lusts for more. That such men, when they have entered after death the other life, are directly opposed to the Divine and to heaven, and are on the side of hell, can be seen in the little work on The Last Judgment and the Destruction of Babylon.  [HH559]   

Picture to yourself a society of such persons, all of whom love themselves alone and love others only so far as they make one with themselves, and you will see that their love is precisely like the love of thieves for each other, who embrace and call one another friends so long as they are acting together; but when they cease to act together and discard their subordination to one another, they rise up against and murder one another. When the interiors or the minds of such are explored they will be seen to be full of bitter hatred one against another, and at heart will laugh at all justice and honesty, and likewise at the Divine, which they reject as of no account. This is still more evident in the societies of such in the hells treated of below. [HH560]   

The interiors pertaining to the thoughts and affections of those who love themselves above all things are turned towards themselves and the world, and thus are turned away from the Lord and from heaven; and consequently they are obsessed with evils of every kind, and the Divine cannot flow in; for if it does flow in it is instantly submerged in thoughts of self, and is defiled, and is also mingled with the evils that flow from what is their own. This is why all such in the other life look backwards away from the Lord, and towards the densely dark body that is there in the place of the sun of the world, and is diametrically opposite to the sun of heaven, which is the Lord (see above, n. 123). “Thick darkness” signifies evil, and the “sun of the world” the love of self.{1} [HH561]  

The evils of those who are in the love of self are, in general, contempt of others, envy, enmity against all who do not favor them, and consequent hostility, hatred of various kinds, revenge, cunning, deceit, unmercifulness, and cruelty; and in respect to religious matters there is not merely a contempt for the Divine and for Divine things, which are the truths and goods of the church, but also hostility to them. When man becomes a spirit this hostility is turned into hatred; and then he not only cannot endure to hear these truths and goods mentioned, he even burns with hatred against all who acknowledge and worship the Divine. I once talked with a certain spirit who in the world had been a man in authority, and had loved self to an unusual degree; and when he simply heard some one mention the Divine, and especially when he heard him mention the Lord, he was so excited by hatred arising from anger as to burn with the desire to kill; and when the reins of his love were loosened he wished to be the devil himself, that from his love of self he might continually infest heaven. This is the desire also of some of the Papist religion when they perceive in the other life that the Lord has all power and they have none. [HH562] 

Certain spirits were seen by me in the western quarter towards the south, who said that they had been in positions of great dignity in the world, and that they deserved to be more highly esteemed than others and to rule over others. Their interior character was explored by angels, and it was found that in their offices in the world they had not looked to uses but to themselves, and thus that they had set themselves before uses. But as they were very eager and importunate to be set over others they were allowed to associate with those who were consulting about matters of great importance; but it was perceived that they were unable to give any thought to the business under discussion, or to see matters as they are in themselves, or to speak with reference to the use of the thing, but were able to speak only with reference to self, and that they wished to act from what is pleasing on the ground of favor. They were therefore dismissed from that duty, and left to seek employment for themselves elsewhere.  Therefore they went further into the western quarter, where they were received here and there, but everywhere were told that they thought only of themselves, and of no business except with reference to self, and for this reason were stupid and like merely sensual corporeal spirits. On this account wheresoever they went they were sent away.  Some time afterwards they were seen reduced to a destitute state and asking alms. Thus it was made clear that those who are in the love of self, however from the fire of that love they may seem to speak in the world wisely, speak merely from the memory, and not from any rational light. Therefore in the other life, when they are no longer permitted to bring forth the things of the natural memory, they are more stupid than others, and for the reason that they are separated from the Divine. [HH563]   

There are two kinds of dominion, one of love towards the neighbor and the other of love of self. These two dominions in their essence are direct opposites. One who rules from love towards the neighbor wills good to all, and loves nothing so much as uses, that is, serving others; which is willing good to others and performing uses, either to the church, or to the country, or to society, or to a fellow citizen. This is his love and the delight of his heart.  Moreover, so far as he is exalted to dignities above others he rejoices, not for the sake of the dignities but for the sake of the uses he is then able to perform in greater abundance and of a higher order. Such dominion exists in the heavens. [2] But one who rules from the love of self wills good to no one except himself; the uses he performs are for the sake of his own honor and glory, which to him are the only uses; his end in serving others is that he may himself be served, honored, and permitted to rule; he seeks dignities not for the sake of the good offices he may render to his country and the church, but that he may gain eminence and glory and thereby the delight of his heart. [3] Moreover this love of dominion continues with everyone after his life in the world. Those that have ruled from love towards the neighbor are entrusted with authority in the heavens; but then it is not they who rule, but the uses which they love; and when uses rule the Lord rules. But those who have ruled while in the world are in hell, and are there vile slaves. I have seen those who had power in the world, but who exercised dominion from love of self, cast out among the most vile, and some among those who are in excrementitious places. [HH564] 

But in respect to the love of the world: it is a love opposed to heavenly love in a less degree than love of self, because the evils hidden within it are lesser evils. The love of the world consists in one’s desiring to secure to himself, by any kind of artifice, the wealth of others, and in setting his heart upon riches, and permitting the world to draw him and lead him away from spiritual love, which is love towards the neighbor, and thus from heaven and from the Divine. But this love is manifold. There is a love of wealth for the sake of being exalted to honors, when these alone are loved.  There is a love of honors and dignities with a view to the increase of wealth. There is a love of wealth for the sake of various uses that give delight in the world. There is a love of wealth merely for the sake of wealth, which is a miserly love; and so on. The end for the sake of which wealth is sought is called its use; and it is the end or use that gives to love its quality; for the love is such as is the end in view, and all other things merely serve it as means [HH565]

Author: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG  (1688-1772)

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