Conscience

CONSCIENCE >> New Will
>> Plane of Guardian Angel Operation in Man

What Conscience is shall now be stated. Conscience is formed in a man from his religious persuasion, according to the reception of this within himself. [AC 9112]

With the man of the church, Conscience is formed by means of truths of faith from the Word, or from doctrine drawn from the Word, according to the reception of these in the heart. For when a man knows the truths of faith and apprehends them in his own way, and afterward wills them and does them, a Conscience is then being formed in him. Reception in the heart is reception in the will, for the will of man is that which is called his “heart.” [AC 9113]

From this it is that those who have Conscience speak from the heart what they speak, and do from the heart what they do. Such also have an undivided mind, for they act in accordance with what they believe to be true and good, and in accordance with what they understand. Consequently a more perfect Conscience is possible with those who are more enlightened than others in the truths of faith, and who are in a clearer perception than others, than is possible with those who are less enlightened, and who are in an obscure perception. [AC 9114]

Those have Conscience who have received from the Lord a new will. This will is itself the Conscience; and therefore to act contrary to Conscience is to act contrary to this will And as the good of charity makes the new will, the good of charity also makes the Conscience. [AC 9115]

Seeing that, as before said (n. 9113). Conscience is formed by means of the truths of faith, as also is the new will, and charity, it follows that to act contrary to the truths of faith is to act contrary to Conscience. [AC 9116]

As the faith and charity which are from the Lord make a man’s spiritual life, it follows that to act contrary to Conscience is to act contrary to this life. [AC 9117]

As therefore to act contrary to Conscience is to act contrary to the new will, contrary to charity, and contrary to the truths of faith, consequently contrary to the life which man has from the Lord, it is evident from this that a man is in the tranquility of peace, and in internal blessedness, when he acts according to Conscience; and that he is in in tranquillity, and also in pain, when he acts contrary to Conscience. This pain is what is called “the stings of Conscience.” [AC 9118]

Man has a Conscience of what is good, and a Conscience of what is just. The Conscience of what is good is the Conscience of the internal man; and the Conscience of what is just is the Conscience of the external man. The Conscience of what is good consists in acting according to the precepts of faith from internal affection; while the Conscience of what is just consists in acting according to civil and moral laws from external affection. They who have a Conscience of what is good, have also a Conscience of what is just; but they who have only a Conscience of what is just, have the capacity of receiving a Conscience of what is good, and moreover do receive it when they are instructed. [AC 9119]

What Conscience is may also be illustrated by examples. If unknown to the other, a man has the property of that other in his possession, and thus can keep it for himself without any fear of the law, or of the loss of honor and reputation, and nevertheless restores it to the other because it is not his own, he has Conscience, for he does what is good for the sake of what is good, and what is just for the sake of what is just. Again, if a man who has it in his power to attain a high position, sees that another, who also is a candidate, would be more useful to his country, and yields the position to this other man for the sake of his country’s good, he has Conscience. So in all other cases. [AC 9120]

From these examples may be inferred the character of those who have no Conscience. They are known from the opposite. Those among them who for the sake of their own advantage would make what is unjust to appear as just, and what is evil to appear as good; and the reverse; have no Conscience. Those of them who know that what they do is unjust and evil, and yet do it, do not know what Conscience is, and if instructed, do not wish to know. Such are they who do all things for the sake of themselves and the world. [AC 9121]

Those who have not received Conscience in the world cannot receive Conscience in the other life. Thus they cannot be saved, because they have no plane into which heaven (that is, the Word through heaven) can flow, and whereby it may operate, and so draw them to itself; for Conscience is the plane and receptacle of the influx of heaven. Wherefore in the other life such persons are associated with those who love themselves and the world above all things; and these are in hell. [AC 9122]

The influx of the angels is especially into the conscience of man: there is the plane into which they operate. This plane is in the interiors of man. Conscience is twofold, interior and exterior. Interior conscience is of spiritual good and truth; exterior conscience is of justice and equity. At the present day this latter conscience exists with many; but interior conscience with few. Nevertheless they who enjoy exterior conscience are saved in the other life; for they are of such a character that if they act contrary to what is good and true, or contrary to what is just and equitable, they are inwardly distressed and tormented; not because by so doing they suffer loss of honor, of gain, or of reputation; but because they have acted contrary to good and truth, or to justice and equity. But where these consciences do not exist, there is something else of a very low nature which sometimes counterfeits conscience, and which leads men to do what is true and good, and what is just and equitable, not from the love of these, but for the sake of self and their own honor and advantage. These persons also are distressed and tormented when adverse things befall them. But this conscience is no conscience, because it belongs to the love of self and of the world, and there is nothing in it which regards the love of God and of the neighbor; and therefore in the other life it does not show itself. Men of this description can also perform duties of considerable eminence, like those who enjoy genuine conscience; for in the external form they act in a similar way; but for the sake of their own honor and reputation; and therefore the more they fear the loss of these, the better do they perform public duties in favor of their neighbor and of their country; whereas those who do not fear the loss of these things are members of the commonwealth who are worthy only of rejection. They who are in this false conscience do not even know what conscience is, and when they are told by others what it is, they deride it and believe it to be the result of simplicity or of mental disorder. These things have been said in order that it may be known how the case is with influx, namely, that conscience is the plane into which the angels flow, and indeed into the affections of good and truth, and of justice and equity therein; and that in this way they hold the man bound, yet still in freedom. [AC6207]

The fear of you and the terror of you. That this signifies the dominion of the internal man, “fear” having reference to evils, and “terror” to falsities, is evident from the state of the regenerate man. The state of man before regeneration is such that cupidities and falsities, which are of the external man, continually predominate, and hence arises a combat; but after regeneration the internal man has dominion over the external, that is, over its cupidities and falsities, and then the man is in fear of evils and in terror of falsities, both of which are contrary to conscience, and to act in opposition to this affects him with horror. Howbeit, it is not the internal but the external man that fears evils and dreads falsities, wherefore it is here said “let the fear of you and the terror of you be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every bird of the heaven” that is, upon all cupidities, here signified by “beasts” and upon all falsities, here meant by the “bird of heaven.” This “fear” and this “terror” appear as if they were the man’s own, but they arise from the following cause. As has been previously stated, there are with every man at least two angels, through whom he has communication with heaven, and two evil spirits, through whom he has communication with hell. When the angels rule-as is the case with the regenerate man-then the attendant evil spirits dare not attempt to do anything contrary to what is good and true, because they are in bonds; for, on their attempting to do anything evil, or to speak what is false-that is, to excite it-they are instantly seized with a kind of infernal fear and terror. This fear and terror are what are perceived in the man as a fear and terror for what is contrary to conscience; and therefore as soon as he does or speaks anything contrary to conscience, he comes into temptation, and into the pangs of conscience, that is, into a kind of infernal torment. As to “fear” being predicated of evils, and “terror” of falsities, the case is this: the spirits with a man do not so much fear to do evils as they do to speak falsities, because man is born again and receives conscience through the truths of faith, and therefore the spirits are not allowed to excite false things. With everyone of them there is nothing but evil, so that they are in evil; their very nature, and all their effort therefrom is evil; and since they are in evil, and their proper life consists in evil, they are pardoned for doing evil when they are serving any use. But it is not permitted them to speak anything false, and this in order that they may learn what is true, and thus so far as possible be amended, so that they may serve some low use; but concerning this subject, of the Lord’s Divine mercy, more hereafter. Similar is the case with the regenerate man, for his conscience is formed of the truths of faith, and therefore his conscience is a conscience of what is right, what is false being to him the very evil of life, because it is contrary to the truth of faith. It was otherwise with the man of the Most Ancient Church, who had perception. He perceived evil of life as evil, and falsity of faith as falsity. [AC986]

Author: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG (1688-1772)