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X. The Commandments in General
The commandments of the Decalogue are called the ten words or ten
commandments, because "ten" signifies all; consequently the ten words
mean all things of the Word, and thus all things of the church in brief.
All things of the Word and all things of the church in brief are meant,
because there are in each commandment three interior senses, each sense
for its own heaven, for there are three heavens. The first sense is the
spiritual moral sense; this is for the first or outmost heaven; the
second sense is the celestial spiritual sense, which is for the second
or middle heaven; and the third sense is the Divine celestial, which is
for the third or inmost heaven. There are thus three internal senses in
every least particular of the Word. For from the Lord, who is in things
highest, the Word has been sent down in succession through the three
heavens even to the earth, and thus has been accommodated to each
heaven; and therefore the Word is in each heaven and I may say in each
angel in its own sense, and is read by them daily; and there are
preachings from it, as on the earth.
For the Word is Divine truth itself, thus Divine wisdom, going forth
from the Lord as a sun, and appearing in the heavens as light. Divine
truth is the Divine that is called the Holy Spirit, for it not only goes
forth from the Lord but it also enlightens man and teaches him, as is
said of the Holy Spirit. As the Word in its descent from the Lord has
been adapted to the three heavens, and the three heavens are joined
together as inmosts are with outmosts through intermediates, so, too,
are the three senses of the Word; which shows that the Word is given
that by it there may be a conjunction of the heavens with each other,
and a conjunction of the heavens with the human race, for whom the sense
of the letter is given, which is merely natural and thus the basis of
the other three senses. That the ten commandments of the Decalogue are
all things of the Word in brief can be seen only from the three senses
of those commandments, which are as above stated. (A.E., n. 1024).
What these three senses in the commandments of the Decalogue are can be
seen from the following summary explanation. The first commandment,
"Thou shalt not worship other gods beside Me," involves in the spiritual
moral sense that nothing else nor anyone else is to be worshipped as
Divine; nothing else, that is, Nature, by attributing to it something
Divine of itself; nor anyone else, that is, any vicar of the Lord or any
saint. In the celestial spiritual sense it involves that one God only
is to be acknowledged, and not several according to their qualities, as
the ancients did, and as some heathens do at this day, or according to
their works, as Christians do at this day, who make out one God because
of creation, another because of redemption, and another because of
This commandment in the Divine celestial sense involves that the Lord
alone is to be acknowledged and whorshipped, and a trinity in Him,
namely, the Divine itself from eternity, which is meant by the Father,
the Divine Human born in time, which is meant by the Son of God, and the
Divine that goes forth from both, which is meant by the Holy Spirit.
These are the three senses of the first commandment in their order.
From this commandment viewed in its threefold sense it is clear that it
contains and includes in brief all things that concern the essence of
The second commandment, "Thou shalt not profane the name of God,"
contains and includes in its three senses all things that concern the
quality of the Divine, since "the name of God" signifies His quality,
which in its first sense is the Word, doctrine from the Word, and
worship of the lips and of the life from doctrine; in its second sense
it means the Lord's kingdom on the earth and the Lord's kingdom in the
heavens; and in its third sense it means the Lord's Divine Human, for
this is the quality of the Divine itself.
In the other commandments there are likewise three internal senses for
the three heavens; but these, the Lord willing, will be considered
elsewhere. (A.E., n. 1025.)
As the Divine truth united to Divine good goes forth from the Lord as a
sun, and by this heaven and the world were made (John i. 1, 3, 10), it
follows that it is from this that all things in heaven and in the world
have reference to good and to truth and to their conjunction in bringing
forth something. These ten commandments contain all things of Divine
good and all things of Divine truth, and there is also in them a
conjunction of these. But this conjunction is hidden; for it is like
the conjunction of love to the Lord and love toward the neighbor, Divine
good belonging to love to the Lord, and Divine truth to love toward the
neighbor; for when a man lives according to Divine truth, that is, loves
his neighbor, the Lord flows in with Divine good and conjoins Himself.
For this reason there were two tables on which these ten commandments
were written, and they were called a covenant, which signifies
conjunction; and afterward they were placed in the ark, not one beside
the other, but one above the other, for a testimony of the conjunction
between the Lord and man. Upon one table the commandments of love to
the Lord were written, and upon the other table the commandments of love
toward the neighbor. The commandments of love to the Lord are the first
three, and the commandments of love toward the neighbor are the last
six; and the fourth commandment, which is "Honor thy father and thy
mother," is the mediating commandment, for in it "father" means the
Father in the heavens, and "mother" means the church, which is the
neighbor. (A.E., n. 1026.)
Something shall now be said about how conjunction is effected by means
of the commandments of the Decalogue. Man does not conjoin himself to
the Lord, but the Lord alone conjoins man to Himself, and this He does
by man's knowing, understanding, willing, and doing these commandments;
and when man does them there is conjunction, but if he does not do them
he ceases to will them, and when he ceases to will them he ceases also
to understand and know them. For what does willing amount to if man
when he is able does not do? Is it not a figment of reason? From this
it follows that conjunction is effected when a man does the commandments
of the Decalogue.
But it has been said that man does not conjoin himself to the Lord, but
that the Lord alone conjoins man to Himself, and that conjunction is
effected by doing; and from this it follows that it is the Lord in man
that does these commandments. But anyone can see that a covenant cannot
be entered into and conjunction be effected by it unless there is some
return on man's part, not only in consent but also in acceptance. To
this end the Lord has imparted to man a freedom to will and act as if of
himself, and such a freedom that man does not know otherwise, when he is
thinking about truth and doing good, than that the freedom is in himself
and thus from himself. There is this return on man's part in order that
conjunction may be effected. But as this freedom is from the Lord, and
continually from Him, man must by all means acknowledge that thinking
about and understanding truth and willing and doing good are not from
himself, but are from the Lord.
Consequently when man through the last six commandments conjoins himself
to the Lord as if of himself, the Lord then conjoins Himself to man
through the first three commandments, which are that man must
acknowledge God, must believe in the Lord, and must keep His name holy.
These man does not believe, however much he may think that he does,
unless the evils forbidden in the other table, that is, in the last six
commandments, he abstains from as sins. These are the things pertaining
to the covenant on the part of the Lord and on the part of man, through
which there is reciprocal conjunction, which is that man may be in the
Lord and the Lord in man (John xiv. 20). (A.E., n. 1027.)
It is said by some that he who sins against one commandment of the
Decalogue sins also against the rest, thus that he who is guilty of one
is guilty of all. It shall be told how far this is in harmony with the
truth. When a man transgresses one commandment, assuring himself that it
is not a sin, thus offending without fear of God, because he has thus
rejected the fear of God he does not fear to transgress the rest of the
commandments, although he may not do this in act.
For example, when one does not regard as sins frauds and illicit gains,
which in themselves are thefts, neither does he regard as a sin adultery
with the wife of another, hating a man even to murder, lying about him,
coveting his house and other things belonging to him; for when he
rejects from his heart in any one commandment the fear of God he denies
that anything is a sin; consequently he is in communion with those who
in like manner transgress the other commandments. He is like an infernal
spirit who is in a hell of thieves; and although he is not an adulterer,
nor a murderer, nor a false witness, yet he is in communion with such,
and can be persuaded by them to believe that such things are not evils,
and can be led to do them. For he who becomes an infernal spirit
through the transgression of one commandment, no longer believes it to
be a sin to do anything against God or anything against the neighbor.
But the opposite is true of those who abstain from the evil forbidden in
one commandment, and who shun and afterward turn away from it as a sin
against God. Because such fear of God, they come into communion with
angels of heaven, and are led by the Lord to abstain from the evils
forbidden in the other commandments and to shun them, and finally to
turn away from them as sins; and if perchance they have sinned against
them, yet they repent and thus by degrees are withdrawn from them.
(A.E., n. 1028.)
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