Divine Love and Wisdom (Rogers) n. 267

Previous Number Next Number Next Translation See Latin 

267. (2) An evil person abuses these faculties to defend evils and falsities, whereas a good person uses them to defend goods and truths. From the intellectual faculty called rationality, and from the volitional faculty called freedom, a person acquires the ability to affirm whatever he wishes. For the natural person can elevate his intellect to as high a light as he desires. However, a person who is caught up in evils and their resulting falsities does not elevate it further than the higher region of his natural mind, and rarely up to the region of his spiritual mind. The reason is that he is governed by the delights of his natural mind, and if he elevates his intellect above that, his love's delight perishes. If he does elevate it further and sees truths opposed to his life's delights or to the assumptions of his own intelligence, he then either falsifies those truths, or passes them by and scornfully leaves them behind, or he retains them in memory as means to serve his life's love and conceit in his own intelligence. [2] The fact that a person can affirm whatever he wishes is clearly apparent from the many heresies found in the Christian world, each of which is defended by its adherents. Who does not know that evils and falsities of every kind can be defended? It can be maintained-and evil people moreover inwardly do maintain-that God does not exist, that nature is everything, and that nature created itself; that religion is only a means by which to hold simple minds in bonds; that human prudence accomplishes all, and Divine providence nothing, except to preserve the universe in the order in which it was created; and furthermore, that murders, adulterous affairs, thefts, fraudulent practices, and acts of vengeance are permissible, as held by Machiavelli* and his disciples. [3] The natural person can maintain these and other like beliefs; indeed, he can fill books with arguments in their defense. And when he has become convinced of them, these falsities then appear in an illusory light of their own, and truths in such darkness that they cannot be seen except as apparitions in the night. In a word, take the falsest notion and present it as a proposition, and tell a clever person to defend it, and he will defend it even to the point that the light of truth is completely extinguished. But then set aside his arguments, go back and view the same proposition in the light of your rationality, and you will see the falsity of it in its monstrosity. It can be seen from this that a person can abuse these two faculties that he has in him from the Lord to defend evils and falsities of every kind. No animal can do this, because it does not possess these faculties. An animal is consequently born into the whole order of its life and into all the knowledge pertaining to its natural love, unlike the human being. * Niccol- di Bernardo Machiavelli, 1469-1527, Italian historian, statesman, and political philosopher. His most well-known work, The Prince, written in 1513 and published posthumously in 1532, describes his ideal ruler as a calculating and ruthless tyrant not bound by moral restraints.

This page is part of the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

© 2000-2001 The Academy of the New Church