Charity, by Emanuel Swedenborg, , tr. by John Whitehead  at sacred-texts.com
I THE "FIRST" OF CHARITY IS TO LOOK TO THE LORD AND SHUN EVILS BECAUSE THEY ARE SINS; THIS IS DONE BY REPENTANCE. To be expounded in this order: (1) In so far as anyone does not shun evils because they are sins, he remains in them. (2) In so far as anyone does not recognize and know what are sins, he does not see otherwise than that he is without sin. (3) In so far as anyone recognizes and knows what are sins, he can see them in himself, confess them before the Lord. and repent of them. (4) Before repentance, good is spurious good. It is the same with charity, because good is of charity. (5) Consequently the "first" of charity is to look to the Lord and shun evils because they are sins.2.
1. In so far as anyone does not look to the Lord and shun evils because they are sins, he remains in them. Man is born into evils of every kind. His will, which is his proprium, 2-1 is nothing but evil. Unless, therefore, a man is reformed and regenerated, he not only remains just as he was born, but becomes even worse, because he adds actual evils himself to those hereditarily acquired. A man remains such if he does not shun evils as sins. Shunning them as sins is shunning them as diabolical and hellish, and thus deadly, and because accordingly there is eternal damnation in them. If a man so regards them, then he believes that there is a hell and a heaven; he also believes that the Lord can remove evils, if he, too, as from himself, makes an effort to remove them. But the things which are shown on this subject in THE DOCTRINE OF LIFE FOR THE NEW JERUSALEM, nos. 108-113, may be seen, to which I will add this: All evils are innately delightful, because man is born into the love of self, and that love delights in all the things that are of his proprium, that is, the things that he wills and thinks. Unless these inbred delights are subdued, everyone remains in them until death; and they are not subdued unless they are regarded as sweet poisons which kill, or as flowers beautiful in appearance but inwardly toxic, that is, unless the delights of the evils are regarded as being fatal, and this until they become undelightful.3.
2. In so far as anyone does not recognize and know what are sins, he does not see otherwise than that he is without sin. Because of the Word, he knows that he is a sinner, in evils from head to foot, yet he does not really know, because he does not see any sin in himself. Consequently he prays with a ringing voice as it were, he confesses with a ringing voice as it were, and yet inmostly in himself he believes that he is not a sinner. This belief is made evident in the other life; for then he says, "I am pure, I am clean, I am guiltless"; nevertheless, when he is examined, he is impure, unclean, indeed even carrion. It is as if the skin were outwardly clear and soft, [but] the inner parts from the heart itself were diseased; or as if a liquid were, on the surface, like water, but in its depths putrid from stagnation.4.
3. In so far as anyone recognizes and knows what are sins, he can see them in himself, confess them before the Lord, and repent of them. It is said that he can if he will, and he who believes in eternal life does will. But even so, he ought to think not about the things he does, but about those he wants to do, which, when he believes them allowable, he also does, or, if he does not do them, it is on account of the world. There is an internal effect and an external effect, or internal and external deed. The external effect or deed proceeds and has existence from the internal effect or deed, just as action from effort. Effort in a man is will; consequently, although he does not do a thing in body, yet if he makes it allowable, then the effort or will remains, and this, in spirit, is action itself. Therefore, recognizing and knowing what his sins are is recognizing and knowing his thoughts, and in them what he makes allowable, and then what he lusts after and favours in his thought. For example, if a man considers whether whoredom is a sin, and what a serious sin it is, whether hatred and acts of revenge are sins, whether thefts and the like, arrogance and pride, contempt also for others, and avarice, are sins; he must then remove any disguises he has cast over them, that is, any confirmations, and let him consult the Word, and he will see.5.
Everyone sees that he who acknowledges that a sin is a sin [can see the sins in himself] but he who makes them allowable in thought, and, on account of the world, not allowable in the body, cannot see them. He is like a man turning a mirror upside down to see his face, or like one who wants to see his face putting a piece of linen gauze in front of it. 5-16.
4. Before repentance, good is spurious good. It is the same with charity, because good is of charity. For there is evil inwardly with the man, because it has not been opened, and therefore not healed; and genuine good cannot spring from evil. The fountain is impure. The good which springs from evil may, in its outward form, appear good; but within it, is the man, such as he is inwardly. All that the man does thence is an image of him. Before the angels he himself appears in his own image, indeed, outside himself; which I have seen a thousand times. On this account the good which anyone does with the body may appear good before those who see only the external; but within there lies hidden the will and intention, which may be that he wishes to be thought sincere and good, so that he may impose on others for the sake of honour and gain. In a word, it is good that is either merit-seeking, or hypocritical, or diabolical, which is in order to deceive, revenge, kill, etc.; but this good is taken away at death when he is let into his interior things, and it becomes openly evil.7.
Every good that a man does to the neighbour is of charity, or is charity. The quality of the charity therefore may be recognized from the three things preceding, namely: 1, To what extent he shuns evils as sins, 2, To what extent he knows and recognizes what are sins; 3, And to what extent he has seen them in himself, confessed them, and repented. These are the indications to anyone of what quality is the charity he has.8.
5. Consequently the "first" of charity is to look to the Lord and shun evils because they are sins. Every good which a man does to the neighbour for the sake of the neighbour, or for the sake of truth and good, thus for the sake of what is in accordance with the Word, or for the sake of religion, thus for the sake of God, which therefore is from a spiritual love or affection, is called a good of charity, or a good work. This is not good in so far as it derives [anything] from the man, but is good in so far as it is from the Lord 8-1 through the man. The Lord does good to everyone, chiefly through others, but yet so that a man scarcely knows otherwise than that it is from himself; and therefore He quite often moves the wicked to do good to others, but from an affection of the love of self and of the world. This good is indeed of the Lord or from the Lord, but the man is not on that account rewarded. But a man is rewarded if he does good, not from a merely natural love or affection, but from a spiritual love or affection. The reward is the heavenly delight of that love and affection, which awaits him in eternity; and this in so far as he does not do it from himself, that is, in so far as he believes that all good is from the Lord, and does not place merit in it.9.
That no one can from himself do good which is good, but that in so far as a man shuns evils as sins, he does goods not from himself but from the Lord, may be seen in THE DOCTRINE OF LIFE FOR THE NEW JERUSALEM, FROM THE PRECEPTS OF THE DECALOGUE, nos. 9-17, and 18-31.10.
From these it is evident that before repentance it is charity, the good of which is not from the Lord but from the man; but after repentance it is charity the good of which is not from the man but from the Lord. For the Lord cannot enter with a man, and do any good from Himself through him, before the devil, that is, evil, is cast out, but after he is cast out. The devil is cast out by repentance, and when he is cast out the Lord enters and does good there through the man, yet always in such a way that the man does not perceive otherwise than that he is doing it from himself; though he knows nevertheless that it is from the Lord.11.
From these things it is now evident that the "first" of charity is to shun evils as sins, which is done by repentance. Who does not see that an impenitent man is wicked? And who does not see that a wicked man has not charity? And who does not see that he who has not charity cannot do charity? Charity must be from charity in the man.12.
In conclusion, let some passages be brought forward from the Word, for example from the Lord's words to the Pharisees, about the internal man having to be purified. Passages in Isaiah 1. Some of the passages In THE DOCTRINE OF LIFE FOR THE NEW JERUSALEM, nos. 28-31; also 50-52.13.
II THE "SECOND" OF CHARITY IS TO DO GOODS BECAUSE THEY ARE USES. To be expounded in this order: (1) Doing no evil to the neighbour is of charity. (2) Wishing to do good to the neighbour is of charity. (3) A man may be doing good, which he believes to be of charity, and all the while not be shunning evil; and yet every evil is contrary to charity. (4) In proportion as a man does not wish to do evil to the neighbour, he wishes to do good to him; but not the reverse. (5) Before the good a man does is the good of charity, evil must first be put away, because it is contrary to charity; and this is done by looking to the Lord, and by repentance. (6) Such as the recognition of evil is, and its consequent putting away by repentance, such is the good which is of charity. (7) Hence it follows that the "first" of charity is to look to the Lord and shun evils as sins; and that the "second" of charity is to do goods.14.
Not wishing to do evil to the neighbour is of charity. Everyone sees that charity does not do evil to the neighbour, because charity is love towards the neighbour, and he who loves someone is afraid of doing evil to him. There is a conjunction of minds between them. It is because of this that, when he does evil to him to whom he is conjoined by love., it is perceived in his mind as though he were doing evil to himself. Who can do evil to his children, wife, or friends? - For doing evil is contrary to the good of love.15.
Who does not see that anyone hating another, acting against him with hostility and animosity, burning with revenge, and desiring his death, is not loving the neighbour? that anyone who would commit whoredom with someone else's wife, who would deflower virgins and abandon them, or violate women, is not loving the neighbour? that he who would plunder and upon one pretext or another steal his goods, who injures another person's reputation by slandering and so bearing false witness, is not loving the neighbour? Nor, indeed, he who covets his house, his wife, or the many other things that are his neighbour's? From which it Is evident that not wishing to do evil to the neighbour is of charity.16.
Concerning this Paul writes thus, "Loving the neighbour is fulfilling the law," in two places. 16-1 And elsewhere from the Word:17.
2. Wishing to do good to the neighbour is of charity. This is well known, for it is believed that giving to the poor, succouring the needy, assisting widows and orphans, benefiting ministers, contributing to churches, hospitals, and various pious uses, is of charity ; again, that feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, sheltering the stranger, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, going to those bound in prison, and many other things, are good works of charity. But yet they are good only in so far as a man shuns evils as sins. If the man does these good works before shunning evils as sins, they are external, even merit-seeking, because they spring from an Impure fountain, and things issuing from such a fountain are inwardly evil. There is the man in them, and the world in them.18.
That doing Christian good works is of charity is well known; and many people believe that good cancels out evil, and that so there are not [any] evils with a man, or that they are not regarded; but good does not cancel out evil unless the man thinks about the evils with himself, and repents of them.19.
There are many who have so believed, and have supposed that there was no evil with them. When examined, they have confessed that they were full of evils, and that unless they were kept in external things, they could not be saved.20.
3. A man may be doing good, which he believes to be of charity, and all the while not be shunning evil; and yet every evil is contrary to charity. It is evident that to shun evil [and to do Christian good] are two distinct things; for there are people who do every good of charity from piety and from thinking about eternal life, and all the while they do not know that hating, bearing revenge, committing whoredom, plundering and injuring, slandering, and so bearing false witness, and many [other things, are to be shunned]. There are judges who live piously, and yet do not count it a sin to make their judgments on a basis of friendship, relationship, or with a view to honour and gain; and even if they do know they are evils, they confirm themselves in the belief that they are not. So also do others. In a word, there are two distinct things, shunning evils as sins, and doing Christian good. He who shuns evils as sins does Christian goods, but they who do good and do not shun evils as sins, do not do any Christian good; for evil is contrary to charity, and is therefore to be abolished first before the good which anyone does is accompanied with charity, that is, is of charity. No one is able to do good and at the same time to do evil, or to will good and also evil.21.
Every good that in itself is good proceeds from the interior will. From this will, evil is removed by repentance. 21-1The evil into which a man is born resides there also. Unless, therefore, he repents, evil remains in the interior will, and the good proceeds from the. exterior will, and so his condition is a perverted one. The interior qualifies the exterior, and not the exterior the interior. The Lord says : "Cleanse first that which is within the cup and platter." 21-222.
Man has a twofold will, interior and exterior. The interior will is purified by repentance; and then the exterior does good from the interior. Exterior good does not remove the evil of lusting, or evil's root.23.
4. In proportion as a man does not wish to do evil to the neighbour, he wishes to do good to him; but not the reverse. There is civil good, there is moral good, and there is spiritual good. Good, before a man shuns evils as sins, is civil and moral good; but as a man shuns evils as sins, the good, both civil good and moral good, becomes spiritual as well, but not before.24.
Lusting lies hidden within, and its delight is outside. When, therefore, a man thinks from lusting and its delight, either he confirms evil and believes it to be allowed, and so is in evil; or he does not think about any evil with himself, and so believes himself to be sound.25.
It is true that a man ought to confess to being a sinner, and that from the head to the sole of the foot there is no soundness in him. This he can say, and say from knowledge; but still he cannot inwardly believe it unless he knows it through investigation. Then he can say these things, and then he first discerns that there is no soundness in him. In this and in no other way is the ulcer opened and healed. In any other way it is palliative curing.26.
Did not the Lord preach repentance; the disciples also; and John the Baptist? Isaiah says that the first thing is to cease from evils, and that then one learns to do good. 26-1 Nor does one know, before that, what is good, or of what quality good is. Evil does not know what is good; whereas good, from knowing what is good, knows evil.27.
Before the good a man does is the good of charity, evil must first be put away, because it is contrary to charity; and this is done by repentance. Since evil must first be known for the reason that it is to be put away, the Decalogue was the "first" of the Word, and in the whole of Christendom is also the " first " of the doctrine of the Church. All are initiated into the Church through knowing evil, and, because it is against God, not doing it.28.
Therefore this "first" was so holy, for the reason that no one is able to do Christian good before.29.
That good follows, is clearly evident from this: A judge says, I do not intend to pass judgment from evil, 29-1 for various reasons, but justly; and he does good.30.
A farmer says, I do not intend to do my work except justly and faithfully; so he does good work.31.
So in a thousand other instances; when anyone does not do evil he does good.32.
It can therefore be taken as a maxim, that to shun evil as sin is to do good.33.
6. Such as the recognition of evil is, and its consequent putting away by repentance, such is the good which is of charity. According as a man knows what is more or less evil. According as he knows the evils of faith and also the evils of life. And how he desists from them; And desists from them as he looks to the Lord and believes in Him.34.
Examples can teach. Whether he is such inwardly; then the purer he is; then of better water is the fountain from which his good flows.35.
In a word, good to anyone is good in the same degree and of the same kind as evil to him is evil. The one cannot be separated from the other.36.
In so far as any one puts off the old man, he puts on the new.37.
In so far as anyone crucifies the flesh, he lives in the spirit.38.
No one can serve two masters at the same time.39.
Recognition involves that what is true and what is false has to be known. Putting away is of the will. Both are of the life.40.
7. Hence it follows that the "first" of charity is to look to the Lord and shun evils because they are sins; and that the "second" of charity is to do goods. An evil man, as well as a good one, can do good. He can help someone in need, can do him many good offices, from goodwill, kindness, friendship, or compassion. But nevertheless these things are not of charity with the one who does them, but with the one to whom the charity is exercised. To outward appearance it is charity.41.
When anyone has shunned an evil as a sin several times, then there appears to him only the good that he is doing; and they [that is, the prior shunning of evil and the subsequent doing of good] are with him together. But nevertheless the one must be prior; and the one really is prior and interior.42.
III THE NEIGHBOUR TO BE LOVED IS, IN A SPIRITUAL IDEA, GOOD AND TRUTH. It is said, "in a spiritual idea", because it is in this that the spiritual man is interiorly, and because the angels are in the same idea. This idea is dissociated from matter, from space and time, and dissociated especially from person. Arrangement into order: (1) A man is not a man from the form, but from the good and truth with him, or what is the same, from the will and understanding. (2) It is therefore the good and truth with a man that is the neighbour to be loved. (3) The quality of neighbour with a man is in accordance with the quality of the good and truth with him; or such as the man is, such a neighbour is he. (4) The degree of neighbour is in accordance with the degree of good and truth with the man; and hence one man is not neighbour in the same degree as another. (5) The good of the internal will is the neighbour to be loved, and not the good of the external will, unless this makes one with it. (6) Truth is the neighbour in so far as it proceeds from good and makes one with it as a form makes one with its essence.43.
1. A man is not a man from the form, but from the good and truth with him, or what is the same, from the will and understanding. That the will and understanding are the man himself, not the form, which may appear like a man in face and body, is well known. There are some who are foolish and insane, and yet they appear to be men. There are some so natural that they are like animals, except that they can speak. There are others who are rational, and others who are spiritual. It may even be that the human form of the latter appears less beautiful, yet they are men more than the former. Take good and truth away from them, and there is a human form without a man in it. They are like paintings and sculptures, and like apes.44.
It is said, "good and truth, that is, will and understanding," because good is of the will, and truth is of the understanding; for the will is the receptacle of good, and the understanding is the receptacle of truth.45.
But yet it is only in their subject that good and truth can be. A thing cannot be separated from its subject; and therefore man is the neighbour; but in a spiritual idea it is good and truth, man being a man from these.46.
2. It is therefore the good and truth with a man that is the neighbour to be loved. Put in front of you three or ten persons whom you may select for some domestic matter. Do you select otherwise than according to the good and truth with them? It is from the latter that a man is a man.47.
If you are selecting someone for your household staff out of ten persons, do you not inquire about his will and understanding?48.
The one of them you select is to you the neighbour who is loved. In like manner, a devil-man may, in face, look like an angel-man. Is it not an angel-man that is to be loved, not a devil-man? You do good to an angel-man on account of the good and truth with him, but not to a devil-man. Charity requires that the latter should be punished if he does evil, and the angel-man rewarded.49.
If you have in view ten maidens for the purpose of selecting one of them to be your wife, five of whom are harlots and five chaste, do you not select one of the chaste, in accordance with the good in her that agrees with your own?50.
3. The quality of the neighbour with a man is in accordance with the quality of the good [and truth] with him; or such as a man is, such a neighbour is he. The Lord's parable of the man wounded by robbers, where it is said that the one who helped him is neighbour, 50-1 teaches that not every man is neighbour in the same way as another.
2-1 The Latin word proprium means "what is one's own." Swedenborg uses it in a special sense involving what is of the self.
5-1 Note on the left-hand margin of the original MS.: "Investigation: 1, If only as to actions it does not find out much, and this does not suffice; the reason; 2, but if as to thoughts and intentions then it finds out more; 3, but if he investigates what he reckons as a sin or as not a sin, then he finds out indeed, For whatever a man makes allowable in himself, that he does. To make allowable is of the will; it is effort, and in spirit is a deed; and he will do it in the body when obstacles are removed. Machiavellians also are such.
8-1 The Latin original has ex homine (from the man), but the context demands ex Domino (from the Lord).
16-1 Probably Rom. xiii. 8-10, and Gal. v. 14 were intended.
21-1 In the margin: "N.B."
21-2 Matt. xxiii. 26.
26-1 Isaiah i. 16, 17.
29-1 In the margin: "N.B."
50-1 Luke X. 29-37.