Extracts

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Temptations

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[1 of 3] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Temptation, trials, tests" (search under Inner Life/Practices)": source "Arcana Coelestia, vol.10": detail "Section 8164"
Since there are few at this day who undergo spiritual temptations, and hence it is not known how the case is with temptations, it is permissible to say something further about them. There are spiritual temptations, and there are natural temptations. Spiritual temptations are of the internal man, but natural temptations are of the external man. Spiritual temptations sometimes exist without natural temptations, sometimes with them. Temptations are natural when a man suffers as to the body, as to honours, as to wealth, in a word, as to natural life, as is the case in diseases, misfortunes, persecutions, unjust punishments, and the like. The anxieties which then arise, are what are meant by natural temptations. But these temptations effect nothing whatever toward man's spiritual life, neither can they be called temptations, but griefs; for they exist from injury to natural life, which is that of the love of self and the world. The wicked are sometimes in these griefs, and the more they love themselves and the world, and thus have life therefrom, so much the more do they grieve and suffer. But spiritual temptations are of the internal man, and attack his spiritual life. In this case the anxieties are not on account of any loss of natural life, but on account of the loss of faith and charity, and consequently of salvation. These temptations are often induced by natural temptations; for when a man is in these, that is, in disease, grief, the loss of wealth or honour, and the like, if then he begins to think about the Lord's help, His providence, the state of the evil, in that they glory and exult when the good suffer and undergo various griefs and losses, then spiritual temptation is conjoined with the natural temptation.
 There is also a third kind, namely melancholy anxiety, which, for the most part, derives its cause from an infirm state of the body or of the lower mind. In this anxiety there may be something of spiritual temptation, or there may be nothing of it.


[2 of 3] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Temptation, trials, tests" (search under Inner Life/Practices)": source "Arcana Coelestia, vol.1": detail "Section 847"
There are many kinds of temptations, which are in general the celestial, the spiritual, and the natural; and these ought never to be confounded. Celestial temptations can exist only with those who are in love to the Lord, and spiritual ones with those only who are in charity towards the neighbour. Natural temptations are altogether distinct from these, and indeed are not temptations, but merely anxieties arising from natural loves being assailed by misfortunes, diseases, or a depraved condition of the blood and other fluids of the body. From this brief account it may in some degree be known what temptation is, namely, anguish and anxiety occasioned by whatever opposes one's loves.
 Thus with those who are in love to the Lord, whatever assails this love produces an inmost torture, which is celestial temptation; with those who are in love towards the neighbour, or charity, whatever assails this love occasions torment of conscience, and this is spiritual temptation; but with those who are natural, what they frequently call temptations and the pangs of conscience, are not temptations, but only anxieties arising from their loves being assailed, as when they foresee and are sensible of the loss of honour, of the good things of the world, of reputation, pleasures, bodily life, and the like; nevertheless these troubles are wont to be productive of some good. Temptations are, moreover, experienced by those who are in natural charity, and, consequently, by all kinds of heretics, Gentiles, and idolaters, arising from assaults on the life of their faith which they cherish. But these are distresses that faintly resemble spiritual temptations.


[3 of 3] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Temptation, trials, tests" (search under Inner Life/Practices)": source "Divine Providence": detail "Section 146"
Let an example (of internal combat) serve for illustration. A man who has taken pleasure in defrauding and deceiving sees and inwardly acknowledges it to be sin and resolves to desist from it; with this a battle begins of his internal with the external. The internal man is in an affection for honesty, but the external still in the enjoyment of defrauding. This enjoyment, utterly opposed to enjoyment in honesty, does not give way unless forced to do so and can be forced to do so only by combat with it. When the fight is won, the external man comes into the enjoyment of a love of honesty, which is charity.
 Then the pleasure of defrauding gradually turns unpleasant to him. It is the same with all other sins, with adultery and whoredom, revenge and hatred, blasphemy and lying. The most difficult battle of all is with the love of ruling from self-love. A person who subdues this love, easily subdues all other evil loves, for this is their summit.