Extracts

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God as love, wisdom and use

swedenborg

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[1 of 2] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Use, or goal, end, purpose" (search under Inner Life/Teachings)": source "True Christian Religion": detail "Section 387"
He then said to me, "Did they not speak also of a third?" and I said, "What third?"
 He replied, "The Good of Use! Love and wisdom without the good of use are mere nothings: they are only ideal entities, and are without reality, until they are fixed in use. Love, wisdom, and use, are three things which are not to be separated; for if they are, each is reduced to nothing. Love is nothing without wisdom; but in wisdom it is formed for something, which something is use; therefore when love by wisdom is in use, then it really is, because then it actually exists.
 "The case in this respect is exactly the same as with end, cause, and effect, the end being nothing unless by the cause it be in the effect; and if one of the three be destroyed, the whole is destroyed, and becomes as nothing. The case is the same also with charity, faith, and works: charity without faith is nothing, so is faith without charity, and so are charity and faith without works; but in works they become something, the quality of which is according to the use of those works. The same holds good in regard to affection, thought, and operation, and also in regard to will, understanding, and action; for will without understanding is like the eye without sight, and both without action are like the mind without the body: that this is the case, may be clearly seen in this temple, because the light which shines here is a light enlightening the interiors of the mind.
 "The science of geometry also teaches that nothing can be complete, or perfect, except it be a trine, or a compound of three; for a geometrical line is nothing, unless it becomes an area, and an area is nothing unless it becomes a solid; therefore the one must be multiplied into the other in order to give them existence, and in the third they coexist. As it is in this instance, so it is likewise in the case of all and every created thing; they have their limit and termination in a third. Hence we see why the number Three in the Word [Bible] signifies what is complete and perfect. Now this being the case, it surprises me that some profess faith alone, some charity alone, and some works alone, to be necessary to salvation; when yet one without another, or any two of them without the third, are a mere nothing."
 Upon hearing this I asked him, “Is it not possible for a man to have charity and faith, and yet not to have works? may he not be inclined, and in affection and thought, towards some particular purpose, yet not be in its operation?”
 The angel answered, "Only ideally, but not really; and even then he must be in the endeavor or will to operate; and will or endeavor is in itself an act, because it is a continual striving towards action, which striving becomes an exterior act whenever a termination to the endeavor presents itself: endeavor and will therefore as an interior act is accepted by every wise man, because it is accepted by God, as if it were an exterior act, provided only that when opportunity offers it is not defective in operation."


[2 of 2] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Law of Degrees" (search under Cosmology/Cosmology, Laws)": source "Divine Love and Wisdom": detail "Section 213 - 216"
As regards love and wisdom: love is the end, wisdom the instrumental cause, and use is the effect; and use is the complex, continent and basis of wisdom and love; and use is such a complex and such a continent, that all things of love and all things of wisdom lie actually in it; and it is their simultaneity.
 Affection, thought and action are also in a series of similar degrees, because affection has reference to love, thought to wisdom, and action to use. Charity, faith and good work are in a series of similar degrees; for charity is of affection, faith is of thought, and good work is of action. Will, understanding and exercise are also in a series of similar degrees; for will is of love and thence of affection, understanding is of wisdom and thence of faith, and exercise is of use and thence of work. As then all things of wisdom and love lie in use, so all things of thought and affection lie in action, all things of faith and charity in good work, and so forth; but all must be homogeneous, that is, concordant.
 That the ultimate of each series, that is to say, use, action, work, and exercise, is the complex and continent of all the prior things, has not yet been known. It appears as if nothing more lies in use, in action, in work, and in exercise than the same element which lies in motion; and yet all the prior things are actually extant in them, and so fully that nothing is wanting. They are enclosed therein like wine in its cask, and like furniture in its house. They are not apparent, because they are viewed externally only, and viewed externally they are simply activities and motions. It is as when the arms and hands move, and the man is unconscious that a thousand motor fibres concur in every motion of them; and that to the thousand motor fibres thousands of things of thought and affection correspond and excite the motor fibres. As these act most inwardly, they do not appear before any sense of the body. This much is known, that nothing is done in the body, or through the body, except from the will through the thought; and because both of these act, it must needs be that all things of the will and the thought, in general and in particular, lie in the action. They cannot be separated. Hence it is that from the deeds or works of a man, others judge of the thought of his will, what is called his intention. This has been made known to me, that the angels from a man's deed or work done, perceive and see the all of the will and thought, of the doer. The angels of the third heaven perceive and see from his will the end for which he acts; and the angels of the second heaven the cause through which the end operates.
 It is a matter of angelic wisdom that unless the will and understanding, or affection and thought, also charity and faith, clothe and invest themselves with works or deeds whenever it is possible, they are nothing better than airy things which pass away, or like phantoms of air which perish; and that then first they abide with man, and become a part of his life, when the man operates and does them. The reason is that the ultimate is the complex, continent and basis of prior things. Such an airy nothing, and such a phantom, is faith separated from good works; such also are faith and charity without their exercises; only with this difference, that those who declare for faith and charity know that they ought to do good works and can will to do them, but not so those who are in faith separated from charity.