Freedom of choice


[1 of 4] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Freedom, and free will" (search under Inner Life/Teachings)": source "Divine Providence": detail "Section 73"
First, it should be known that all freedom is of love, so much so that love and freedom are one. As love is man's life, freedom is of his life, too. For man's every enjoyment is from some love of his and has no other source, and to act from the enjoyment of one's love is to act in freedom. Enjoyment leads a man as the current bears an object along on a stream. But loves are many, some harmonious, others not; therefore freedoms are many. In general there are three: natural, rational, and spiritual freedom.
 Natural freedom is man's by heredity. In it he loves only himself and the world; his first life is nothing else. From these two loves, moreover, all evils arise and thus attach to love. Hence to think and will evil is man's natural freedom, and when he has also confirmed evils in himself by reasonings, he does them in freedom according to his reason. Doing them is from his faculty called liberty, and confirming them from his faculty called rationality.
 Rational freedom is from the love of good repute for the sake of standing or gain. The delight of this love is to seem outwardly a moral person. Loving this reputation, the man does not defraud, commit adultery, take revenge, or blaspheme; and making this his reasoned course, he also does in freedom according to reason what is sincere, just, chaste, and friendly; indeed from reason can advocate such conduct. But if his rational is only natural and not spiritual, his freedom is only external and not internal. He does not love these goods inwardly at all, but only outwardly for reputation's sake, as we said. The good deeds he does are therefore not in themselves good. He can also say that they should be done for the sake of the general welfare, but he speaks out of no love for that welfare, but from love of his own standing or gain. His freedom therefore derives nothing from love of the public good, nor does his reason, which complies with his love. This rational freedom, therefore, is inwardly natural freedom. The Lord's divine providence leaves everyone this freedom too.
 Spiritual freedom is from love of eternal life. Into this love and its enjoyment only he comes who regards evils as sins and therefore does not will them, and who also looks to the Lord. Once a man does this he is in this freedom. One can refuse to will and do evils for the reason that they are sins, only from an interior or higher freedom, belonging to his interior or higher love. This freedom does not seem at first to be freedom, yet it is. Later it does seem freedom, and the man acts in real freedom according to true reason, thinking, willing, speaking and doing the good and the true. This freedom grows as natural freedom decreases and serves it; and it unites with rational freedom and purifies it.

[2 of 4] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Freedom, and free will" (search under Inner Life/Teachings)": source "Arcana Coelestia, vol.3": detail "Section 2876"
As no one can be reformed except in freedom, therefore freedom is never taken away from man, so far as it appears. It is an eternal law that everyone should be in freedom as to his interiors, that is, as to his affections and thoughts, to the end that the affection of good and truth may be insinuated in freedom.

[3 of 4] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Freedom, and free will" (search under Inner Life/Teachings)": source "Heaven and Hell": detail "Section 598"
Man cannot be reformed unless he has freedom, for the reason that he is born into evils of every kind; and these must be removed in order that he may be saved; and they cannot be removed unless he sees them in himself and acknowledges them, and afterwards ceases to will them, and finally holds them in aversion. Not until then are they removed. And this cannot be done unless man is in good as well as in evil, since it is from good that he is able to see evils, while from evil he cannot see good. The spiritual goods that man is capable of thinking he learns from childhood by reading the Word [Bible] and from preaching; and he learns moral and civil good from his life in the world. This is the first reason why man ought to be in freedom.
 Another reason is that nothing is appropriated to man except what is done from an affection of his love. Other things may gain entrance, but no farther than the thought, not reaching the will; and whatever does not gain entrance into the will of man does not become his, for thought derives what pertains to it from memory, while the will derives what pertains to it from the life itself. Only what is from the will, or what is the same, from the affection of love, can be called free, for whatever a man wills or loves that he does freely; consequently man's freedom and the affection of his love or of his will are a one. It is for this reason that man has freedom, in order that he may be affected by truth and good or may love them, and that they may thus become as if they were his own.
 In a word, whatever does not enter into man’s freedom has no permanence, because it does not belong to his love or will, and what does not belong to man’s love or will does not belong to his spirit; for the very being of the spirit of man is love or will. It is said love or will, since a man wills what he loves. This, then is why man can be reformed only in freedom.

[4 of 4] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Freedom, and free will" (search under Inner Life/Teachings)": source "True Christian Religion": detail "Section 69"
Every man, so long as he lives upon earth, walks in a midway between heaven and hell, and consequently is in equilibrium, so as to have freedom of will either to look upward towards God, or downward towards hell. If he looks upward towards God, he acknowledges that, all wisdom is from him, and as to his spirit is actually in consort with angels in heaven; but if he looks downward, as everyone does who is under the influence of falses originating from evil, he is then, as to his spirit, actually in consort with devils in hell.