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THE DOCTRINE OF CHARITY

AC 6703. As prefatory to the chapters of the Book of Exodus I have undertaken to deliver the doctrine of charity, it must first be told what the neighbor is, because it is he toward whom charity is to be exercised. For unless it is known who the neighbor is, charity may be exercised in the same manner and without distinction equally toward the evil as toward the good, "whereby charity becomes no charity; for by virtue of its benefactions the evil do ill to the neighbor; but the good do well.

AC 6704. The general opinion at the present day is that every man is equally the neighbor, and that everyone who is in need of help must be benefited. But it is the part of Christian prudence to search "well the quality of a manís life, and to exercise charity in accordance therewith. The man of the internal church does this with discrimination, thus with intelligence; but as the man of the external church cannot thus discriminate, he does it indiscriminately.

AC 6705. The ancients reduced the neighbor into classes, and named each class according to the names of those who in the world appear to be especially in need; and they taught how charity was to be exercised toward those who were in one class, and how toward those in another; and in this way they reduced the doctrine, and the life according to it, into order. Hence the doctrine of their church contained the laws of life, and hence they saw of what quality was this or that man of the church whom they called "brother," but with a distinction in the internal sense in accordance with his exercise of charity from the genuine doctrine of the church, or from the doctrine as changed by himself; for as everyone desires to appear blameless, he defends his own life, and therefore either explains or changes the laws of doctrine in his own favor.

AC 6706. The distinguishing differences of the neighbor, which the man of the church ought to wholly know, in order that he may know the quality of charity, vary in accordance with the good which is with everyone; and as all good proceeds from the Lord, the Lord is the neighbor in the highest sense, and in a surpassing degree; and from Him the neighbor originates. From this it follows that in proportion as anyone has of the Lord in him, in the same proportion he is the neighbor; and as no two persons receive the Lord (that is, receive the good which proceeds from Him) in the same way, therefore no two persons are the neighbor in the same way; for without exception all persons in the heavens and on earth differ in good. Precisely one and the same good never exists in two persons; it must vary in order for each person to subsist by himself. But all these varieties, thus all the distinguishing differences of the neighbor, which are according to the reception of the Lord, that is, of the good proceeding from Him, can never be known to any man, nor even to any angel, except in general, thus as to their genera and some species of these. Nor does the Lord require more of the man of the church than to live according to what he knows.

AC 6707. From all this it is now clear that the quality of Christian good determines in what degree each one is the neighbor; for the Lord is present in good, because it is His, and He is present according to the quality of it. And as the origin of the neighbor must be drawn from the Lord, therefore the distinguishing differences of the neighbor are according to the LordsĎ presence in good, thus according to the quality of the good.

AC 6708. That the neighbor is according to the quality of the good, is plain from the Lordís parable of the man "who fell among thieves, "whom, "while half dead, the priest passed by, and also the Levite; but the Samaritan, when he had bound up his "wounds and poured in oil and "wine, set him on his own beast and brought him to an inn and took care of him; and he, because he exercised the good of charity, is called the "neighbor" (Luke 10:29-37). Hence it may be known that they are the neighbor "who are in good; whereas they who are in evil are indeed the neighbor, but in quite a different respect; and for this reason they are to be benefited in a different "way. But on this subject, of the LordĎs Divine mercy more will be said hereafter.

AC 6709. As it is the quality of the good which determines how everyone is the neighbor, it is the love which does this; for there is not any good which is not of love; from this comes forth all good, and from this also comes forth the quality of the good.

AC 6710. That it is the love "which makes a man to be the neighbor, and that each person is the neighbor according to the quality of his love, is very manifest from those "who are in the love of self. These acknowledge as the neighbor those "who love them the most; that is, in so far as they are theirs; thus are in themselves. These they embrace, these they kiss, these they benefit, and these they call brethren; nay, because they are evil, they say that these are the neighbor more than others. All the rest they hold to be the neighbor according as these love them, thus according to the quality and the amount of the love. much derive the origin of the neighbor from themselves, for it is the love that is the determinant.

AC 6711. But they who do not love themselves more than others, as is the case with all "who are of the Lordís kingdom, "will derive the origin of the neighbor from Him whom they ought to love above all things, that is, from the Lord; and will regard everyone as the neighbor according to the quality of his love to Him. They therefore who love others as themselves, and especially those who-like the angels-love others more than themselves, all derive the origin of the neighbor from the Lord; for the Lord Himself is in good, because it proceeds from Him. Hence also it can be seen that the quality of the love determines who is the neighbor. That the Lord is in good, He Himself teaches in Matthew; for He says to those who had been in good, that they "had given Him to eat," that they "had given Him to drink, had gathered Him, clothed Him, visited Him, and had come to Him in prison;" and afterward, that "in so far as they had done it to one of the least of His brethren, they had done it to Him" (Matthew 25:34-40).

AC 6712. From all this it is now evident whence the origin of neighbor is to be drawn by the man of the church; and that everyone is the neighbor in the degree in which he is near the Lord; and because the Lord is in the good of charity, that the neighbor is according to the quality of the good, thus according to the quality of the charity.

ON THE SPIRITS OF THE PLANET MERCURY

AC 6807. That the universal heaven bears relation to a man, which has been called the Grand Man, and that each and all things in man, both his exteriors and his interiors, correspond to that man, or to heaven, has been shown at the close of many chapters. But they who come into the other life from this earth, being relatively few, are not sufficient to constitute this Grand Man: there must be others from many other earths; and it is provided by the Lord that as soon as the nature or the amount of the correspondence is lacking anywhere, there shall be straight-way summoned from some earth those who will make up the deficiency, in order that the proportion may be maintained, and that in this way heaven may stand firm.

AC 6808. What the spirits of the planet Mercury bear relation to in the Grand Man, has also been disclosed to me from heaven, namely, the memory, but the memory of things that are abstracted from what is earthly and merely material. But as it has been given me to speak with them, and this for many weeks, and to learn their quality, and to explore the condition of those who are in that earth, I would present the actual experiences.

AC 6809. They once came to me and searched the things in my memory. Spirits can do this with the utmost skill; for when they come to a man, they see in his memory everything he knows. When therefore the spirits of Mercury searched out various things, and among others the cities and places where I had been, I observed that they did not wish to know about the churches, palaces, houses, and streets; but only what I knew to have been done in these places, and also matters relating to the government there, and to the genius and manners of the inhabitants, with other things like these; for such things cling to the places that are in manís memory, and therefore when the places are excited, these other things also come up. I wondered at this character of the spirits of Mercury, and I therefore asked why they passed by the magnificent features of the places, and only searched out the facts and doings there? They said they have no delight in looking at material, bodily, and earthly things, but only at real ones. From this it at once appeared that the spirits of that earth relate in the Grand Man to the memory of real things when abstracted from things material and earthly.

AC 6810. I have been told that their life in their own earth is of the same character, namely, that they care nothing for earthly and bodily things; but only for the statutes, laws, and governments of the nations there, and also for the things of heaven, which are innumerable. And I was further told that many of the men of that earth speak with spirits, and from this have knowledges of spiritual realities, and of the states of life after death, and from this also they have contempt for bodily and earthly things. For they who know with certainty and believe in a life after death, care for heavenly things, as being eternal and happy, and not for worldly things except in so far as the necessities of life require.

AC 6811. With what eagerness they search out and learn knowledges, such as are in the memory that is raised above the sensuous things of the body, was made evident to me from the fact that when they looked into what I knew about heavenly things, they ran over them all, continually saying, "That is so-and-so, that is so-and-so." For when spirits come to a man, they enter into all his memory, and excite from it all that is suited to themselves; nay, as I have often observed, they read its contents as from a book. The spirits of Mercury did this with greater skill and quickness, because they looked at the real things themselves, and did not delay over such things as are slow, and which confine and consequently retard the internal sight, as do all earthly and bodily things when regarded as an end, that is, when loved in an extraordinary degree. For realities to which earthly things do not adhere bear the mind upward, thus into a wide field; whereas merely material things bear the mind downward, thus into a narrow one. Their eagerness to acquire knowledges also became evident in the following manner. Once when I was writing something about the future, and they were at a distance, so that they could not look at it from my memory, they were very indignant because I would not read it in their presence, and contrary to their usual behavior they desired to upbraid me, calling me the worst of men, and so forth; and in order to show their anger they induced a kind of contraction on the right side of my head as far as the ear, that was attended with pain. But such things did me no harm. But as the spirits had done evil they went still further off, and yet they waited; because they wanted to know what I had written about the future. Such is their desire for knowledges.

AC 6812. Above all other spirits the spirits of Mercury possess knowledges of real things, both of those within this solar system, and also of those which are beyond it in the starry heaven; and what they have once acquired they retain, and also recall, as often as like things occur. This shows very plainly that the memory of spirits is much more perfect than that of men, and also that what spirits hear, see, and perceive, they retain, especially such things as delight them, as the knowledges of real things delight these spirits. For all things that cause delight and love, flow in as it were spontaneously, and remain; other things do not enter, but only touch the surface and pass by.

AC 6813. When the spirits of Mercury come to other societies, they search out from them what they know, and as soon as they have done this they depart. There is such a communication among spirits that when they are in a society, if they are accepted and loved, all things which they know are communicated, and this not by any speech, but by influx. By reason of their knowledges the spirits of Mercury are more conceited than others, and they were therefore told that although they know innumerable things, still there are infinite things which they do not know; and that if their knowledges should increase to eternity, they would not attain even to a knowledge of generals. They were told also of their conceit and elation of mind, and how unbecoming this is; but they answered that it is not conceit, but only a glorying in their faculty of memory. In this way they can excuse their faults.

AC 6814. They are averse to verbal speech because it is material, and therefore I could talk with them no otherwise than by a kind of active thought. Their memory, being of real things, and not of purely material images, supplies the thought with its objects more closely; for the thought which is above the imagination requires for its objects things abstracted from what is material. But in spite of this, the spirits of Mercury excel but little in the faculty of judgment. They are not delighted with matters that belong to judgment and to conclusions from thoughts; for bare knowledges are their delight.

AC 6815. I was allowed to insinuate the question whether they did not desire to perform some use by virtue of their knowledges; because it is not sufficient to be delighted with knowledges, seeing that knowledges look to uses, and uses must be the ends. From knowledges alone, I told them, there is no use to them, but only to others to whom they may desire to communicate their knowledges; and it is by no means proper for a man who desires to be wise, to halt in knowledges alone, because these are only instrumental causes, intended to serve in the search for uses, which must be of the life. But they answered that they are delighted with knowledges, and that to them knowledges are uses.

AC 6816. The spirits of Mercury are quite different from the spirits of our earth, for the spirits of our earth care not so much for real things as for material, worldly, bodily, and earthly things. Therefore the spirits of Mercury cannot be together with the spirits of our earth, and so whenever they meet them they See away; for the spiritual spheres which exhale from the two are almost opposite. The spirits of Mercury have a saying, that they love what is drawn out from things material, and that they do not desire to look at the sheath, but at things stripped of their sheath, thus at interior things.

AC 6817. The subject of the spirits of the planet Mercury will be continued at the end of the following chapter.

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