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Spirit of Swedenborg Emanuel Swedenborg

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Spirit of Swedenborg

by Emanuel Swedenborg

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The Life of Charity and Faith

"He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God."

-- Micah, VI, 8

The Law of Charity

Not to do evil to the neighbor is the first thing of charity, and to do good to him fills the second place.... That a man cannot do good which in itself is good before evil has been removed, the Lord teaches in many places: "Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit" -- Matt. XVI, 18.

So in Isaiah: "Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before Mine eyes; cease to do evil; learn to do well" (I, 16,17).

-- True Christian Religion, n. 445

Good In Its Wholeness

Before repentance good is not done from the Lord, but from the man. It has not, therefore, the essence of good within it, however it appears like good outwardly. Good after repentance is another thing altogether. It is a whole good, unobstructed from the Lord Himself. It is lovely; it is innocent; it is agreeable, and heavenly. The Lord is in it, and heaven. Good itself is in it. It is alive, fashioned of truths. Whatever is thus from good, in good, and toward good, is nothing less than a use to the neighbor, and hence it is a serving. It puts away self and what is one's own, and thus evil, with every breath. Its form is like the form of a charming and beautifully colored flower, shining in the rays of the sun.

-- The Doctrine of Charity, n. 150

The Man of Charity

Every man who looks to the Lord and shuns evils as sins, if he sincerely, justly and faithfully performs the work which belongs to his office and employment, becomes an embodiment of charity.

-- The Doctrine of Charity, VII

In common belief charity is nothing else than giving to the poor, succoring the needy, caring for widows and orphans, contributing to the building of hospitals, infirmaries, asylums, orphanages, and especially churches, and to their decoration and income. But most of these things are not the proper activities of charity, but extraneous to it. A distinction is to be made between the duties of charity, and its benefactions. By the duties of charity those exercises of it are meant, which proceed directly from charity itself. These have to do primarily with one's occupation. By the benefactions those aids are meant which are given outside of, and over and above the duties.

-- True Christian Religion, n. 425

The Activity of Charity

Charity is an inward affection, moving man to do what is good, and this without recompense. So to act is his life's delight.

The life of charity is to will well and to do well by the neighbor; in all work, and in every employment, acting out of regard to what is just and equitable, good and true. In a word, the life of charity consists in the performance of uses.

-- Heavenly Doctrine, nn. 106, 124

Faith the Partner of Charity

Neither charity alone nor faith alone can produce good works, any more than a husband alone or a wife alone can have offspring. The truths of faith not only illuminate charity, but qualify it, too; and, moreover, they nourish it. A man, then, who has charity and not truths of faith, is like one walking in a garden in the night-time, snatching fruit from the trees without knowing whether it is of a good or evil use.

-- True Christian Religion, n. 377

The Patriotism of Charity

One's country is the neighbor more than a society, for it consists of many societies, and consequently the love of it is a more extended and a higher love. Besides, to love one's country is to love the public welfare. A man's country is the neighbor because it is like a parent; for there he was born; it has nourished and still nourishes him; it has protected him from harm, and still protects him. From love for it he ought to do good to his country according to its needs, some of which are natural, and others spiritual. The country ought to be loved, not as a man loves himself, but more than himself. This is a law inscribed on the human heart. And from the law has issued the proposition, which has the assent of every true man, that if ruin threatens the country from an enemy or other source, it is illustrious to die for it, and glorious for a soldier to shed his blood for it. This is a common saying, because so much should one's country be loved. Those who love their country, and from good will do good to it, after death love the Lord's kingdom, for this is their country there; and they who love the Lord's kingdom, love the Lord, for He is the All in all of His Kingdom.

-- True Christian Religion, n. 414

Faith and Doubt

There are those who are in doubt before they deny, and there are those who are in doubt before they affirm. Those in doubt before they deny, are men who incline to a life of evil. When that life sways them, they deny things spiritual and celestial to the extent that they think of them. But those in doubt before they affirm, are men who incline to a life of good. When they suffer themselves to be turned to this life by the Lord, they then affirm things spiritual and celestial to the extent that they think of them.

-- Arcana Coelestia, n. 2568

The Faith of the Faithful

It is one thing to know truths, another to acknowledge them, and yet another to have faith in them. Only the faithful can have faith.

-- Arcana Coelestia, n. 896

The only faith that endures with man springs from heavenly love. Those without love have knowledge merely, or persuasion. Just to believe in truth and in the Word is not faith. Faith is to love truth, and to will and do it from inward affection for it.

-- Heaven and Hell, n. 482

If a man thinks to himself or says to another, "Who can have that inward acknowledgment of truth which is faith? I cannot," I will tell him how he may: "Shun evils as sins, and go to the Lord, and you will have as much as you desire."

-- Doctrine Concerning Faith, n. 12


Not only is the individual man the neighbor, but the collective man, too. A society, smaller or larger, is the neighbor; the Church is; the Kingdom of the Lord is; and above all the Lord Himself. These are the neighbor, to whom good is to be done from love. These are also the ascending degrees of the neighbor; for a society consisting of many is the neighbor in a higher degree than is the individual; one's country in a still higher degree; the Church in a still higher degree than one's country; in a degree higher still the Kingdom of the Lord; and in the highest degree the Lord Himself. These degrees of ascent are like the steps in a ladder, at the top of which is the Lord.

-- Heavenly Doctrine, n. 91


There is an affection in every employment, which puts the mind upon the stretch and keeps it intent upon its work or study. If it is not relaxed, this becomes heavy, and its desire meaningless; as salt, when it loses its saltness, no longer stimulates, and as the bow on the stretch, unless it is unbent, loses the force it gets from its elasticity. Continuously intent upon its work, the mind wants rest; and dropping to the physical life, it seeks pleasures there that answer to its activities. As is the mind in them, such are the pleasures, pure or impure, spiritual or natural, heavenly or infernal. If it is the affection of charity which is in them, all diversions will recreate it -- shows, games, instrumental and vocal music, the beauties of field and garden, social intercourse generally. There remains deep in them, being gradually renewed as it rests, the love of work and service. The longing to resume this work breaks in upon the diversions and puts an end to them. For the Lord flows into the diversions from heaven, and renews the man; and He gives the man an interior sense of pleasure in them, too, of which those know nothing who are not in the affection of charity.

-- Doctrine of Charity, nn. 127, 128, 130 the Keys to Heaven are with our grasp right now

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