Swedenborg originally published the two short works Life and Faith separately, but in the text he makes it clear the two title topics are closely intertwined: one cannot truly understand one apart from the other.
Life refers not to the life force that sustains us but to the way we live our lives. This short piece focuses on the concept of regeneration, or spiritual rebirth, as a process of consciously rejecting our own destructive impulses and internalizing love and goodness. It argues that the choices we make and the reasons we make them have everything to do with our salvation. Swedenborg includes a brief overview of the inner sense of the Ten Commandments as a way to understand the nature of the choice between good and evil.
In Faith, Swedenborg rejects the notion that faith can be a choice to believe things that make no rational sense. Instead, he defines faith as an inner recognition of what is actually true. He explores the complex relationship between faith and knowledge, and emphasizes that true faith can occur only in people who love others and treat them well.
Life / Faith is part of the New Century Edition of the Works of Emanuel Swedenborg (NCE), an ongoing translation series. The NCE series incorporates the latest scholarship and translation standards for a more accurate and accessible rendering of Swedenborg’s works. Traditionally titled The Doctrine of Life and The Doctrine of Faith, these short works are often published together with two others—The Lord and Sacred Scripture—under the title The Four Doctrines. These four titles will be published together in the forthcoming NCE hardcover annotated volume The Shorter Works of 1763.