Spiritual Meaning of
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The signification of a usurer, is one who does what is good for the sake of self-advantage; for a usurer intrusts money to another for the sake of usury, and assists another for the sake of recompense. And because genuine charity does not regard profit or recompense as the end, but the good of the neighbor, therefore by thou shalt not be as a usurer is signified that it must be done from charity. He who does not know what Christian charity is, may believe that it consists not only in giving to the needy and the poor, but also in doing good to a fellow citizen, to our country, and to the church, for any cause whatever, or for any end whatever. But be it known that it is the end that determines the quality of all a man's deeds. If his end or intention is to do good for the sake of reputation, or to acquire honors or profit, then the good which he does is not good, because it is done for the sake of himself, and thus also from himself. But if his end is to do good for the sake of a fellow citizen, his country, or the church, thus for the sake of the neighbor, then the good which the man does is good, for it is done for the sake of good itself, which, in general, is the neighbor itself (AC 5025, 6706, 6711, 6712, 8123); thus also it is done for the sake of the Lord, for such good is not from man, but from the Lord, and that which is from the Lord is the Lords. It is this good which is meant by the Lord in Matthew:--
As much as ye did to one of the least of these My brethren, ye did to Me (Matt. 25:40).
 As it is with good, so also it is with truth. Those who do truth for the sake of truth, do it also for the sake of the Lord, because they do it from the Lord. To do truth for the sake of truth, is to do good; for truth becomes good when it passes from the understanding into the will, and from the will goes forth into act. To do good in this manner is Christian charity. Sometimes those who do good from Christian charity have regard to reputation from it, for the sake of honor, or for the sake of profit; yet they do so very differently from those who regard these things as the end; for they regard what is good and just as the essential and only thing, thus as being in the highest place; and thereafter they regard profit and honor, and reputation for the sake of these, as being relatively not essential, thus in the lowest place. When persons of such a character have in view what is just and good, they are like those who fight in battle for their country, and who then have no regard for their life, nor for their rank and possessions in the world, which are then relatively of no account. But those who have regard to themselves and the world in the first place, are of such a character that they do not even see what is just and good, because they have in view themselves and their own profit.
 From all this it is evident what it is to do good for the sake of self or the world, and what it is to do good for the sake of the Lord or the neighbor, and what is the difference between them. The difference is as great as that between two opposites, thus as great as between heaven and hell Moreover those who do good for the sake of the neighbor or the Lord are in heaven; but those who do good for the sake of self and the world are in hell. For those who do good for the sake of the neighbor and the Lord, love the Lord above all things and the neighbor as themselves, in accordance with the chief of all the commandments (Mark 12:28-31). But those who do all things for the sake of themselves and the world, love themselves above all things, thus more than God, and not only do they despise the neighbor, but even hold him in hatred if he does not make one with themselves, and be theirs. This is meant by what the Lord teaches in Matthew:--
No man call serve two masters, for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon (Matt. 6:24).
There are those who serve both; but these are they who are called lukewarm, neither cold nor hot, who are spewed out (Rev. 3:15, 16) From all this it is now plain what was represented by usurers who took usury, namely, those who do good for the sake of profit.
 From this it is clear why it is said that one should not he as a usurer, and should not put usury upon a brother; as also in other passages in Moses:--
Thou shalt not put on thy brother usury of silver, usury of food, usury of anything on which it is put. Upon a foreigner thou mayest put usury; but upon thy brother thou shalt not put usury; that Jehovah thy God may bless thee in all that thou puttest thine hand into, in the land whither thou goest to possess it (Deut. 23:19, 20; Lev. 25:36-38);
to put on a brother the usury of silver denotes to lend truths, or to instruct, for the sake of profit; to put the usury of food on him denotes to lend the goods of truth for the sake of profit; for silver denotes truth (AC 1551, 2954, 5658, 6914, 6917); and food, the good of truth (AC 5147, 5293, 5340, 5342, 5410, 5426, 5487, 5576, 5582, 5588, 5655, 5915, 8562). That Jehovah will bless those who do not so, in all that they put their hand unto in the land is because they are in the affection of good and truth, thus in the happiness the angels have in heaven, for a man has heaven in this affection, that is, in the good of this love (AC 6478, 9174). The reason why it was allowable to put usury on foreigners, was that by foreigners are signified those who do not acknowledge and receive anything of good and truth (AC 7996). Thus they who do good only for the sake of profit are to serve man, because they are relatively servants (AC 1097). In David:--
He that walketh perfect, and that doeth righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart; He that giveth not his silver to usury, and taketh not a gift against the innocent. He that doeth this shall never be moved (Ps 15:2, 5);
to give one's silver into usury denotes to teach merely for the sake of profit, thus to do good for the sake of the recompense. In like manner in Ezekiel:--
A righteous man who doeth judgment and righteousness, giveth not into usury, and taketh not interest (Ezek. 18:5, 8).
He that withholdeth his hand from the needy, that taketh not usury or interest, that doeth My judgments, that walketh in My statutes, living he shall live (Ezek. 18:17).
In thee have they taken a gift to shed blood; thou hast taken usury and interest, and thou hast taken gain of thy companions by violence (Ezek. 22:12).
This is said of the city of bloods, by which is signified the falsity that destroys truth and good (AC 9127); taking usury and interest denotes doing good for the sake of profit and recompense, thus not from charity. That genuine charity is devoid of all claim to merit, (AC 2371, 2373, 2400, 4007, 4174, 4943, 6388-6390, 6392, 6478).
from AC 9210
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|Author: E. Swedenborg (1688-1772).||Design: I.J. Thompson, Feb 2002.||www.BibleMeanings.info|