March 29, 2015

When Charity is Principal

From Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
All who are in the Lord's kingdom are heirs; for they live from the Lord's life, which is the life of mutual love; and from this they are called sons. The Lord's sons or heirs are all who are in His life, because their life is from Him, and they are born of Him, that is, are regenerate. They who are born of anyone are heirs; and so are all who are being regenerated by the Lord, for in this case they receive His life.

In the Lord's kingdom there are those who are external, those who are interior, and those who are internal. Good spirits, who are in the first heaven, are external; angelic spirits, who are in the second heaven, are interior; and angels, who are in the third, are internal. They who are external are not so closely related or so near to the Lord, as they who are interior; nor are these so closely related or so near to the Lord, as they who are internal. The Lord, from the Divine love or mercy, wills to have all near to Himself; so that they do not stand at the doors, that is, in the first heaven; but He wills that they should be in the third; and, if it were possible, not only with Himself, but in Himself.

What pertains to doctrine does not itself make the external, still less the internal; nor with the Lord does it distinguish churches from each other, but that which does this is a life according to doctrinals, all of which, provided they are true, look to charity as their fundamental.
What is doctrine but that which teaches how a man must live?

In the Christian world it is doctrinal matters that distinguish churches; and from them men call themselves Roman Catholics, Lutherans, and Calvinists, or the Reformed and the Evangelical, and by other names. It is from what is doctrinal alone that they are so called; which would never be if they would make love to the Lord and charity toward the neighbor the principal of faith. Doctrinal matters would then be only varieties of opinion concerning the mysteries of faith, which truly Christian men would leave to everyone to hold in accordance with his conscience, and would say in their hearts that a man is truly a Christian when he lives as a Christian, that is, as the Lord teaches. Thus from all the differing churches there would be made one church; and all the dissensions that come forth from doctrine alone would vanish; yea, all hatreds of one against another would be dissipated in a moment, and the Lord's kingdom would come upon the earth.

The Ancient Church just after the flood, although spread through many kingdoms, was yet of this character, that is, men differed much among themselves as to doctrinal matters, but still made charity the principal; and they looked upon worship, not from doctrinal matters which pertain to faith, but from charity which pertains to life. This is meant where it is said (Gen. 11:1), that they all had one lip, and their words were one.

(Arcana Coelestia 1799)