Extracts

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Self-examination

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[1 of 1] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Self-knowledge and self-examination" (search under Inner Life/Practices)": source "Divine Providence": detail "Section 278[2] - 278b, 278[6]"
But as few know that this self-examination is the Christian religion itself, and that these alone have charity and faith and are led by the Lord and do good from him, something will be said of those who fail to examine themselves but still think that they possess religion. They are:
 a. Those who confess themselves guilty of all sins but do not search out any one sin in themselves.
 b. Those who neglect the search on religious principle.
 c. Those who in absorption with the mundane give no thought to sins and hence do not know them.
 d. Those who favor them and therefore cannot know them.
 e. With all these, sins do not appear and therefore cannot be removed.
 Of those who confess themselves guilty of all sins, but do not search out any one sin in themselves. They say, "I am a sinner. I was born in sin. From head to foot there is nothing sound in me. I am nothing but evil. Good God, be gracious to me, pardon, cleanse and save me. Make me to walk in purity and in a right path"; and more of the kind. And yet the man does not examine himself and hence does not know any evil, and no one can shun what he is ignorant of, still less fight against it.
 After his confessions he also thinks that he is clean and washed, when nevertheless he is unclean and unwashed from the head to the sole of the foot. For the confession of all sins is the lulling of them all to sleep and finally blindness to them. It is like a generality devoid of anything specific, which amounts to nothing.
 But the cause, hidden so far, why evils cannot be removed apart from their being searched out, appearing, being acknowledged, confessed, and resisted is the fact that all heaven is arranged in societies according to affections of good, and all hell in societies according to the lusts of evil opposite to the affections of good. Each person as to his spirit is in some society, in a heavenly one if in an affection of good, but in an infernal one if in some lust of evil. While living in the world man does not know this and yet as to his spirit he is in some society; otherwise he cannot live; and by it he is governed by the Lord. If he is in an infernal society, he cannot be led out of it by the Lord except according to the laws of divine providence, among which is this also, that a man shall see that he is there, want to leave, and make the effort himself to do so. One can do this while in the world but not after death, for then he remains forever in the society in which he put himself in the world.
 It is for this reason that man is to examine himself, see and avow his sins, do repentance, and thereupon persevere to the close of life. I might substantiate this to full belief by much experience, but this is not the place to document the experience.