Swedenborg lived a most useful and charitable life. Anyone would judge by his scientific achievements and his faith in God that he was a good man for society. The point I wish to make here is that good deeds and good works—while better than faith alone—was not enough to help him form an intimate and spiritual partnership with the Lord God.
This is why during Swedenborg’s transition from a scientist to theologian, the Lord had asked him whether he had a “bill of health”—not whether he was generous and helpful to society.
As a result, Swedenborg was given a deep look at himself through unflattering dreams and making real efforts at purifying his heart (to improve his spiritual health). During this time he also made the uncomfortable discovery that if his brilliant scientific writings did not lead to greater reputation and worldly status, it would take the fire out of his heart. Self-centeredness was in control of his cockpit This rare insight informed him that he had to change this dynamic within himself.
He suffered through many horrific inner challenges, but he also felt these inner purges were the most important things he could do on earth. (I believe these spiritual combats were his greatest achievements.)
You see, acts of love and kindness, do not gain spiritual life (vivification) until we remove the inner dirt from our lives. This is one of the most misunderstood concepts concerning spiritual growth.
Only God loves. If we choose, we can become receptacles of that love.
When we discover, resist and reject our inner demons, more of God’s genuine heavenly love can flow into our lives. Anyone can act with worldly kindness—including those with hidden agendas and bright smiles.
What we seek is not simply goodness in our lives but goodness of innocence. Only the Lord God can give us that innocence.
Does your religion or philosophic worldview encourage this personal battle and inner purging within your self?