<< SPIRITUAL WARFARE, >>
AND THE NECESSITY OF IT IN THE REGENERATING PROCESS
Our regeneration thus commenced, is to be carried on by successive combats with evil, and with fallen spirits, with which our evils connect us. Such is the law of our spiritual nature, that, by resistance to evil, we become grounded in the opposite good. By an encounter with doubt and with the false, we become rooted in the truth. When the good that is in us is assailed by the forces of evil, and we array ourselves against the powers of darkness, we become Settled in the good ; for here, as well as in Mechanics, action and re-action are equal. The Strength exerted by the enemy, if we oppose, passes into the victor. Hence temptation is a necessary part of the regenerating process. (See Arcana Coelestia 5036, 5403, 7090.)
When we oppose evil, and our will is arrayed against it in the spiritual conflict, Swedenborg teaches that we are not to appropriate it to ourselves, as it ceases to be ours the moment we sincerely hate it and combat it. Mr. Charles Wesley, in whose poetry there is much in harmony with the theology of the New Age, beautifully says:
"I hate my sins, no longer 'mine,
For I renounce them too;
My weakness with thy strength I join,
Thy strength shall all subdue."
All good is from God, its sempiternal source, and cometh down from the Father of lights. It is an emanation from the Lord. It is necessary that a soul fed this, so as to ascribe all to its source. We must not appropriate anything good to ourselves, or feel that we have any merit for it, for by so doing we defile it, and it ceases to be good. All good is from the Lord, and is something of the Divine in us. The human soul is a created organism to be filled with God, as a void is filled with the atmosphere. Every good thought, every holy feeling, every sacred purpose, is from heaven alone. It is equally important for us to feel that all evil is from beneath, and is something of hell in us. When we come to an interior conviction and perception of this, and hate it and combat it as such, it is not imputed to us as ours. For instance, when we feel a spirit of melancholy, and recognize it as a dark shadow of hell thrown across our minds, and array ourselves against it, it is not imputed to us as ours. When the will opposes it, we cease to have any property in it. So of anger, impatience, unclean lusts, anxiety, and all other forms of evil. The will is of the love, and the love is the life of man, yea, the very man himself. When our will or love is arrayed against evil, and we believe that the evil is from beneath, and flows in from hell, we can say with Paul, "It is no more I that do it;" I am where my will or love is, for this is my very being. Blessed is the man whose iniquity is thus covered, to whom the Lord imputeth not sin. Good is an effluence from God through the heavens into the human soul; evil is an inflowing from hell. Evil thoughts may be injected into the mind from the world of wicked spirits, and so may evil feelings. This we cannot avoid. But Dr. Paley has justly observed, " The first motions of our minds, as it is impossible to hinder them, are reckonedby all divines not to be sinful, provided we do not encourage them." (Paley's Works, p. 239.)
When we feel evil thus entering into us from beneath, seeking a lodgment in our wills and affections, and intruding itself into the sacred temple of the soul, we should feel that it is not ours; our will should assume an attitude of hostility to it, and by a mental ejaculation we should lift up our souls to the Lord. In a few minutes, sometimes instantly, it will be removed, and the soul left in tranquillity and peace. This is a principle of great importance in the spiritual life. We must not appropriate to ourselves good, for that belongs to God alone. We should not, in the hour of temptation, appropriate to ourselves evil, for this is an inflowing from hell. This is necessary to our sanctification, our liberty, our peace.
In the temptation conflicts that attend a real regeneration, man ought to combat as from himself, and not to remain passive, and hang down his hands. But while he puts forth the power with which he is Divinely endowed, he must feel that the Lord fights for him. For temptation is of no avail, and productive of no good, unless a man believes that the Lord has fought and conquered for him. (Arcana Coelestia, 8969.)
Author: Warren Felt Evans (1817-1889)