Extracts

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Neighbor

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[1 of 2] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Charity, degrees of" (search under Outer Life/Doctrine, Rites, Scriptures)": source "On the New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine": detail "Section 84 - 88"
Here it shall first he shown what is meant by the term, Neighbor; as it is the neighbor who is to be loved, and towards whom charity is to be exercised. Unless this point be clearly understood, charity may be exercised indiscriminately towards the evil and the good, and thus become no charity at all; for the evil, from the benefactions they receive, do evil to the neighbor, but the good do good.
 It is a prevailing opinion at the present day, that every man is to be considered as being equally the neighbor, and that acts of beneficence are to be performed towards every one who needs our assistance. But it is the province of Christian prudence thoroughly to scrutinize the quality of a man's life, and to exercise charity towards him accordingly. The man who is a member of the internal church, exercises his charity in this manner; but he who is of the external church, because he cannot so easily discern things, acts without discrimination.
 The distinctions of neighbor depend on the degree of good which each man possesses. And since all good proceeds from the Lord, the Lord himself is neighbor in the supreme sense of the word, and in the super-eminent degree, and from Him is the origin of this relationship. Hence it follows, that as far as the Lord is resident with any one, so far that man is the neighbor; and because no one receives the Lord, that is, receives good from Him, in exactly the same manner as another does, no one can be the neighbor in the same manner as another is; for all who are in the heavens, and all the good who are on earth, differ from each other as to the degree of their goodness. No two persons ever receive a divine gift that is in all respects one and the same: such gifts must be various, that each may subsist by itself.
 Since every one possesses good in a different degree, it follows, that the quality of that good determines in what degree, and in what proportion, any man is to be considered as our neighbor. So it is evident that good, in the universal sense of the word, is the neighbor, because man is the neighbor only according to the quality of the good which he receives from the Lord. And because good itself is the neighbor, so also is love, for all good is from love; consequently, every man is the neighbor according to the quality of the love which he possesses from the Lord.


[2 of 2] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Love, of neighbor" (search under Inner Life/Love, Positive Emotion, Virtue, Will)": source "On the New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine": detail "Section 106"
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. For they who love the person, and not that which is with him from which he is, love evil as well as good. Moreover, doing good to the evil as well as to the good, is the same as doing evil to the good, which is not loving the neighbor.