Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/123

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The Nature of the Fall.

"But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat of it; for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." These words, together with those just explained, signify that it is allowable to obtain a knowledge of what is true and good by means of every perception derived from the Lord, but not from self and the world; or, that it is unlawful to inquire into the mysteries of faith by means of things of sense and knowledge, by which means his celestial quality is destroyed.

A desire to investigate the mysteries of faith by means of things sensuous and known, was not only the cause of the fall or decline of the Most Ancient Church, in the succeeding generation, but it is the cause of the fall or decline of every church; for hence come not merely false opinions, but evils of life also.

The worldly and corporeal man says in his heart, "If I am not instructed by the senses concerning faith, and the things relating to it, so that I may see them, or by means of knowledge, so that I may understand them, I will not believe;" and he confirms himself in his incredulity by the fact that natural things cannot be contrary to spiritual. Thus he would be instructed in heavenly and Divine subjects by the experience of his senses; which is as impossible as for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. For the more he would grow wise by such a process, the more he blinds himself; till at length he comes to believe nothing, not even the reality of spiritual existences, or of eternal life. This is a necessary consequence of the principle which he lays down. This is to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil; of which the more a man eats the more dead he becomes. But he who would grow wise by wisdom derived from the Lord, and not from the world, says within himself that he ought to believe the Lord, that is, the things which the Lord has spoken in the Word, because they are truths; and according to this principle he regulates his thoughts. Such a person confirms himself in his belief by things of reason and knowledge, sensual and natural; and things which do not confirm he rejects. (A. C. n. 126-128.)