< V. The Loves of Self and of the World ^ The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine ^ VII. Faith >

VI. Love Towards the Neighbor, or Charity

HD 84. It shall first be shown what the neighbor is, for it is the neighbor who is to be loved, and towards whom charity is to be exercised. For unless it be known what the neighbor is, charity may be exercised in a similar manner, without distinction, towards the evil as well as towards the good, whence charity ceases to be charity: for the evil, from benefactions, do evil to the neighbor, but the good do good.

HD 85. It is a common opinion at this day, that every man is equally the neighbor, and that benefits are to be conferred on everyone who needs assistance; but it is in the interest of Christian prudence to examine well the quality of a man’s life, and to exercise charity to him accordingly. The man of the internal church exercises his charity with discrimination, consequently with intelligence; but the man of the external church, because he is not able thus to discern things, does it indiscriminately.

HD 86. The distinctions of neighbor, which the man of the church ought altogether to know, are according to the good which is with everyone; and because all good proceeds from the Lord, therefore the Lord is the neighbor in the highest sense and in a supereminent degree, and the origin is from Him. Hence it follows that so far as anyone has the Lord with himself, so far he is the neighbor; and because no one receives the Lord, that is, good from Him, in the same manner as another, therefore no one is the neighbor in the same manner as another. For all who are in the heavens, and all the good who are on the earths, differ in good; no two ever received a good that is altogether one and the same; it must be various, that each may subsist by itself. But all these varieties, thus all the distinctions of the neighbor, which are according to the reception of the Lord, that is, according to the reception of good from Him, can never be known by any man, nor indeed by any angel, except in general, thus their genera and species: neither does the Lord require any more of the man of the church, than to live according to what he knows.

HD 87. Because good varies with everyone, it therefore follows, that the quality of good determines in what degree and in what proportion anyone is the neighbor. That this is the case is plain from the Lord‘s parable concerning him that fell among robbers, whom, when half dead, the priest passed by, and also the Levite; but the Samaritan, after he had bound up his wounds, and poured in oil and wine, took him up on his own beast, and led him to an inn, and ordered that care should be taken of him: because he exercised the good of charity, he is called the neighbor (Luke 10:29-37). Hence it may be known that they are the neighbor who are in good: "the oil and wine," which the Samaritan poured into the wounds, also signify good and its truth.

HD 88. It is plain from what has now been said, that in the universal sense, good is the neighbor, because man is the neighbor according to the quality of the good that is with him from the Lord. And because good is the neighbor, so is love, for all good is of love; thus every man is the neighbor according to the quality of the love which he receives from the Lord.

HD 89. That love is what causes anyone to be the neighbor, and that everyone is the neighbor according to the quality of his love, appears manifestly from those who are in the love of self. These acknowledge for their neighbor those who love them most, that is, so far as they belong to themselves; these they embrace, they kiss them, they confer benefits on them and call them brothers; yea, because they are evil, they say, that these are the neighbor more than others: they esteem others as the neighbor in proportion as they love them, thus according to the quality and quantity of their love. Such persons derive the origin of neighbor from self, by reason that love constitutes and determines it. But they who do not love themselves more than others, as is the case with all who belong to the kingdom of the Lord, will derive the origin of neighbor from Him whom they ought to love above all things, consequently, from the Lord; and they will esteem everyone as the neighbor according to the quality of his love to Him and from Him. From these things it appears from whence the origin of neighbor is to be drawn by the man of the church; and that everyone is the neighbor according to the good which he possesses from the Lord, thus good itself is the neighbor.

HD 90. That this is the case, the Lord teaches in Matthew:--For He said to those who were in good that they had given Him to eat, that they had given Him to drink, that they had gathered Him, had clothed Him, had visited Him, and had come to Him in prison; and afterwards that, so far as they had done it to one of the least of their brethren, they had done it unto Him (Matt 25:34-40). In these six kinds of good, understood in the spiritual sense, are comprehended all the genera of the neighbor. Hence, likewise, it is evident, that when good is loved the Lord is loved, for it is the Lord from whom good is, who is in good, and who is good itself.

HD 91. But the neighbor is not only man singly, but also man collectively, as a less or greater society, our country, the church, the Lord’s kingdom, 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 neighbor, for a society of many is neighbor in a higher degree than a single man is; in a still higher degree is our country; in a still higher degree is the church; and in a still higher degree is the Lord‘s kingdom; but in the highest degree is the Lord. These ascending degrees are like the steps of a ladder, at the top of which is the Lord.

HD 92. A society is the neighbor more than a single man, because it consists of many. Charity is to be exercised towards it in a like manner as towards a man singly, namely, according to the quality of the good that is with it; thus in a manner totally different towards a society of the upright, than towards a society of those not upright. The society is loved when its good is regarded from the love of good.

HD 93. Our country is the neighbor more than a society, because it is like a parent; for a man is born therein, and it nourishes and protects him from injuries. Good is to be done to our country from love according to its necessities, which principally regard its sustenance, and the civil and spiritual life of those therein. He who loves his country, and does good to it from good will, in the other life loves the Lord’s kingdom, for there the Lord‘s kingdom is his country, and he who loves the Lord’s kingdom loves the Lord, because the Lord is the all in all things of His kingdom.

HD 94. The church is the neighbor more than our country, for he who has regard for the church, has regard for the souls and eternal life of the men who are in his country; wherefore he who provides for the church from love, loves the neighbor in a higher degree, for he wishes and wills heaven and happiness of life to eternity to others.

HD 95. The Lord‘s kingdom is the neighbor in a still higher degree, for the Lord’s kingdom consists of all who are in good, both those on the earths, and those in the heavens; thus the Lord‘s kingdom is good with all its quality in the complex: when this is loved, the individuals are loved who are in good.

HD 96. These are the degrees of neighbor, and love ascends, with those who are in love towards their neighbor, according to these degrees. But these degrees are degrees in successive order, in which what is prior or superior is to be preferred to what is posterior or inferior; and because the Lord is in the highest degree, and He is to be regarded in each degree as the end to which it tends, consequently He is to be loved above all persons and things. From these things it may now appear, how love to the Lord conjoins itself with love towards the neighbor.

HD 97. It is a common saying, that everyone is his own neighbor; that is, that everyone should first consider himself; but the doctrine of charity teaches how this is to be understood. Every one should provide for himself the necessaries of life, such as food, raiment, habitation, and many other things which the state of civil life, in which he is, necessarily requires, and this not only for himself, but also for his own, and not only for the present time, but also for the future; for unless a man procures for himself the necessaries of life, he cannot be in a state to exercise charity, for he is in want of all things.

HD 98. But how everyone ought to be his own neighbor may appear from this comparison. Every one ought to provide food and raiment for his body; this must be the first object, but it should be done to the end that he may have a sound mind in a sound body. And everyone ought to provide food for his mind, namely, such things as are of intelligence and wisdom; to the end that it may thence be in a state to serve his fellow-citizens, human society, his country, and the church, thus the Lord. He who does this provides for his own good to eternity. Hence it is evident that the first is where the end is on account of which we should act, for all other things look to this. The case is like that of a man who builds a house: he first lays the foundation; but the foundation is for the house, and the house is for habitation. He who believes that he is his own neighbor in the first place, is like him who regards the foundation as the end, not the house and habitation; when yet the habitation is the very first and ultimate end, and the house with the foundation is only a means to the end.

HD 99. The end declares how everyone should be his own neighbor, and provide for himself first. If the end be to grow richer than others only for the sake of riches, or for the sake of pleasure, or for the sake of eminence, and the like, it is an evil end, and that man does not love the neighbor, but himself; but if the end be to procure himself riches, that he may be in a state of providing for his fellow-citizens, human society, his country, and the church, in like manner if he procures for himself offices for the same end, he loves the neighbor. The end itself, for the sake of which he acts, constitutes the man; for the end is his love, for everyone has for a first and ultimate end, that which he loves above all things. What has hitherto been said is concerning the neighbor. Love towards him, or Charity, shall now be treated of.

HD 100. It is believed by many, that love towards the neighbor consists in giving to the poor, in assisting the indigent, and in doing good to everyone; but charity consists in acting prudently, and to the end that good may result. He who assists a poor or indigent evil doer does evil to the neighbor through him, for through the assistance which he renders, he confirms him in evil, and supplies him with the means of doing evil to others. It is otherwise with him who gives support to the good.

HD 101. But charity extends itself much more widely than to the poor and indigent; for charity consists in doing what is light in every work, and our duty in every office. If a judge does justice for the sake of justice, he exercises charity; if he punishes the guilty and absolves the innocent, he exercises charity, for thus he consults the welfare of his fellow-citizens and of his country. The priest who teaches the truth, and leads to good, for the sake of truth and good, exercises charity. But he who does such things for the sake of self and the world, does not exercise charity, because he does not love the neighbor, but himself.

HD 102. The case is the same in all other instances, whether a man be in any office or not; as with children towards parents, and with parents towards children; with servants towards masters, and with masters towards servants; with subjects towards the king, and with a king towards subjects: whoever of these does his duty from a principle of duty, and what is just from a principle of justice, exercises charity.

HD 103. The reason why such things belong to love towards the neighbor, or charity, is because, as was said above, every man is the neighbor, but in a different manner. A less and greater society is more the neighbor; our country is still more the neighbor; the Lord’s kingdom still more; and the Lord above all; and in a universal sense, good, which proceeds from the Lord, is the neighbor; consequently also sincerity and justice. Wherefore he who does any good for the sake of good, and he who acts sincerely and justly for the sake of sincerity and justice, loves the neighbor and exercises charity; for he does so from the love of what is good, sincere, and just, and consequently from the love of those in whom good, sincerity, and justice are.

HD 104. Charity therefore is an internal affection, from which man wills to do good, and this without remuneration; the delight of his life consists in doing it. With them who do good from internal affection, there is charity in each thing which they think and speak, and which they will and do; it may be said that a man and an angel, as to his interiors, is charity, when good is his neighbor. So widely does charity extend itself.

HD 105. They who have the love of self and of the world for an end, cannot in any wise be in charity; they do not even know what charity is; and they cannot at all comprehend that to will and do good to the neighbor without reward as an end, is heaven in man, and that there is in that affection a happiness as great as that of the angels of heaven, which is ineffable; for they believe, if they are deprived of the joy from the glory of honors and riches, that nothing of joy can be given them any longer; when yet it is then that heavenly joy first begins, which infinitely transcends the other.


HD 106. Heaven is distinguished into two kingdoms, one of which is called the celestial kingdom, and the other the spiritual kingdom; the love in the celestial kingdom is love to the Lord, and is called celestial love; and the love in the spiritual kingdom is love towards the neighbor, or charity, and is called spiritual love (AC 3325, 3653, 7257, 9002, 9835, 9961). Heaven is distinguished into two kingdoms, (HH 20-28); and the Divine of the Lord in the heavens is love to Him, and charity towards the neighbor (HH 13-19). It cannot be known what good is and what truth is, unless it be known what love to the Lord and love towards the neighbor are, because all good is of love, and all truth is of good (AC 7255, 7366). To know truths, to will truths, and to be affected with them for the sake of truths, that is, because they are truths, is charity (AC 3876, 3877). Charity consists in an internal affection of doing truth, and not in an external affection without an internal one (AC 2429, 2442, 3776, 4899, 4956, 8033). Thus charity consists in performing uses for the sake of uses (AC 7038, 8253). Charity is the spiritual life of man (AC 7081). The whole Word is the doctrine of love and charity (AC 6632, 7262). It is not known at this day what charity is (AC 2417, 3398, 4776, 6632). Nevertheless man may know from the light of his own reason, that love and charity make the man (AC 3957, 6273). Also that good and truth agree together, and that one is of the other, and so also love and faith (AC 7627). The Lord is the neighbor in the highest sense, because He is to be loved above all things; and hence all is the neighbor which is from Him, and in which he is, thus good and truth (AC 2425, 3419, 6706, 6819, 6823, 8124). The distinction of neighbor is according to the quality of good, thus according to the presence of the Lord (AC 6707-6710). Every Man and every society, also our country and the church, and, in the universal sense, the kingdom of the Lord, are the neighbor, and to do good to them according to the quality of their state from the love of good, is to love the neighbor; thus the neighbor is their good, which is to be consulted (AC 6818-6824, 8123). Civil good, which is justice, and moral good, which is the good of life in society, and is called sincerity, are also the neighbor (AC 2915, 4730, 8120-8122). To love the neighbor does not consist in loving his person, but in loving that with him from which he is, consequently good and truth (AC 5028, 10336). They who love the person, and not that which is with him from which he is, love evil as well as good (AC 3820). And they do good to the evil as well as to the good, when nevertheless doing good to the evil is doing evil to the good, which is not loving the neighbor (AC 3820, 6703, 8120). The judge who punishes the evil that they may be amended, and that the good may not be contaminated by them, loves the neighbor (AC 3820, 8120, 8121). To love the neighbor is to do what is good, just, and right, in every work and in every office (AC 8120-8122). Hence charity towards the neighbor extends itself to each and everything which man thinks, wills, and does (AC 8124). To do what is good and true is to love the neighbor (AC 10310, 10336). They who do this love the Lord, who in the highest sense is the neighbor (AC 9210). The life of charity is a life according to the commandments of the Lord; and to live according to Divine truths is to love the Lord (AC 10143, 10153, 10310, 10578, 10645). Genuine charity is not meritorious (AC 2027, 2343, 2400, 3887, 6388-6393). Because it is from internal affection, consequently from the delight of the life of doing good (AC 2373, 2400, 3887, 6388-6393). They who separate faith from charity, in another life hold faith and the good works which they have done in the external form as meritorious (AC 2373). They who are in evils from the love of self or the love of the world, do not know what it is to do good without remuneration, thus what that charity is which is not meritorious (AC 8037). The doctrine of the Ancient Church was the doctrine of life, which is the doctrine of charity (AC 2385, 2417, 3419, 3420, 4844, 6628). Thence they had intelligence and wisdom (AC 2417, 6629, 7259-7262). Intelligence and wisdom increase immensely in the other life with those who have lived a life of charity in the world (AC 1941, 5859). The Lord flows in with Divine truth into charity, because into the essential life of man (AC 2063). The man with whom charity and faith are conjoined is like a garden; but like a desert with whom they are not conjoined (AC 7626). Man recedes from wisdom in proportion as he recedes from charity; and they who are not in charity, are in ignorance concerning Divine truths, however wise they think themselves (AC 2417, 2435). The angelic life consists in performing the goods of charity, which are uses (AC 454). The spiritual angels, who are they that are in the good of charity, are forms of charity (AC 553, 3804, 4735). All spiritual truths regard charity as their beginning and end (AC 4353). The doctrinals of the church effect nothing unless they regard charity as their end (AC 2049, 2116). The presence of the Lord with men and angels is according to their state of love and charity (AC 549, 904). Charity is the image of God (AC 1013). Love to the Lord, consequently the Lord, is within charity, although man does not know it (AC 2227, 5066, 5067). They who live a life of charity are accepted as citizens both in the world and in heaven (AC 1121). The good of charity is not to be violated (AC 2359). They who are not in charity cannot acknowledge and worship the Lord except from hypocrisy (AC 2132, 4424, 9833). The forms of hatred and of charity cannot exist together (AC 1860).

HD 107. To the above shall be added some particulars concerning the doctrine of love to the Lord, and the doctrine of charity, as it was held by the ancients with whom the church was, in order that the former quality of that doctrine, which at this day exists no longer, may be known. The particulars are extracted from the Arcana Coelestia (AC 7257-7263). The good which is of love to the Lord, is called celestial good; and the good which is of love towards the neighbor, or charity, is called spiritual good. The angels who are in the inmost or third heaven, are in the good of love to the Lord, being called celestial angels; but the angels of the middle or second heaven, are in the good of love towards the neighbor, being called spiritual angels. The doctrine of celestial good, which is that of love to the Lord, is of most wide extent, and at the same time most full of arcana; being the doctrine of the angels of the inmost or third heaven, which is such, that if it were delivered from their mouths, scarcely a thousandth part of it would be understood: the things also which it contains are ineffable. This doctrine is contained in the inmost sense of the Word; but the doctrine of spiritual love, in the internal sense. The doctrine of spiritual good, which is that of love towards the neighbor, is also of wide extent and full of arcana, but much less so than the doctrine of celestial good, which is that of love to the Lord. That the doctrine of love towards the neighbor, or charity, is of wide extent, may appear from the fact, that it reaches to all the things which man thinks and wills, consequently to all which he speaks and does, even to the most minute particulars; and also from the fact, that charity does not exist alike with two different persons, and that no two persons are alike the neighbor. As the doctrine of charity was so extensive, therefore the ancients, with whom it was the very doctrine of the church, distinguished charity towards the neighbor into several classes, which they again subdivided, and gave names to each class, and taught how charity was to be exercised towards those who are in one class, and towards those who are in another; and thus they reduced the doctrine and the exercises of charity into order, that they might fall distinctly into the understanding. The names which they gave to those towards whom they were to exercise charity were many; some they called "the blind," some "the lame," some "the maimed," some "the poor," some "the miserable," and "afflicted," some "the fatherless," some "widows," but in general they called them "the hungry," to whom they should give to eat; "the thirsty," to whom they should give to drink; "strangers," whom they should take in; "the naked," whom they should clothe; "the sick," whom they should visit, and "the bold in prison," to whom they should come. Who they were whom they meant by these particulars, has been made known already in the Arcana Coelestia, as whom they meant by "the blind" (AC 2383, 6990); by "the lame" (AC 4302); "the poor" (AC 2129, 4459, 4958, 9209, 9253, 10227); "the miserable" (AC 2129); "the afflicted" (AC 6663, 6851, 9196); "the fatherless" (AC 4844, 9198-9200), and "widows" (AC 4844, 9198, 9200); "the hungry" (AC 4958, 10227); "the thirsty" (AC 4958, 8568); "the strangers" (AC 4444, 7908, 8007, 8013, 9196, 9200); "the naked" (AC 1073, 5433, 9960); "the sick" (AC 4958, 6221, 8364, 9031); "the bound in prison" (AC 5037, 5038, 5086, 5096). It may be seen that the whole doctrine of charity is comprehended in the offices towards those who are called by the Lord "the hungry," "the thirsty," "strangers," "the naked," "the sick," and "the bound in prison" (Matt 25:34-36), (AC 4954-4959). These names were given from heaven to the ancients who were of the church, and by those who were so named they understood those who were spiritually such. Their doctrine of charity not only taught who these were, but also the quality of the charity to be exercised towards each. Hence it is, that the same names are in the Word, and signify those who are such in the spiritual sense. The Word in itself is nothing but the doctrine of love to the Lord, and of charity towards the neighbor, as the Lord also teaches:--

Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind; this is the first and great commandment. The second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Matt 22:37-40).

"The law and the prophets" are the whole Word (AC 2606, 3382, 6752, 7643). The reason why those same names are in the Word, is that the Word, which is in itself spiritual, might in its ultimate be natural; and because they who are in external worship are to exercise charity towards such as are so named, and they who are in internal worship towards such spiritually understood; thus that the simple might understand and do the Word in simplicity, and the wise, in wisdom; also, that the simple, by the externals of charity, might be initiated into its internals.

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