Extracts

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Love of neighbor

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[1 of 2] Swedenborg (1688-1772, Sweden): primary subject "Love, of neighbor" (search under Inner Life/Love, Positive Emotion, Virtue, Will)": source "True Christian Religion": detail "Section 407 - 408"
We will now proceed to show what is meant by loving our neighbor. To love our neighbor is not only to will and do good to a relation, a friend, and a good man, but also to a stranger, an enemy, and a bad man. Charity however is exercised after different ways towards the former objects and the latter: towards a relation and a friend it is expressed by direct acts of kindness; but towards an enemy and a wicked person, by indirect acts of kindness, as by exhortation, correction, and punishment for their amendment. Thus a judge, who according to law and justice punishes a criminal, is in the exercise of love towards his neighbor, since be thus takes the most effectual method to reclaim and amend the criminal, and to provide at the same time for the good of his fellow-citizens, by securing them against his future fraud and violence. It is in like manner plain to everyone, that a father expresses his love towards his children by correcting them when they do amiss: on the other hand, if he does not correct them when they deserve it, he loves their vices; and such love cannot be called charity. So again where a person resists the assaults of an enemy, and in his own defense either beats him, or commits him to prison for his future security, at the same time retaining such a disposition of mind as to be willing to become his friend; in this case he acts from a principle of charity. So also wars, which have for their end the protection of our country and the church, are not inconsistent with charity; the end for which they are undertaken will show whether they are attended with charity or not.
 Since then charity, with respect to its origin, consists in good-will, and good-will resides in the internal man, it in plain that when a man possessed of charity resists an enemy, punishes the guilty, and chastises the wicked, he effects this by means of the external man, and consequently, when he has effected it, he returns into the charity which is in the internal man, and then as far as he is able, or as far as it is expedient wishes well to him whom he has punished or chastised, and from a principle of good-will does him good. Where charity is genuine, it is always attended with zeal for what is good; zeal in the external man may look like anger and flaming fire, yet on the repentance of its adversary, it is instantly extinguished and appeased: but the case is quite different with those who have no charity; their zeal is anger and hatred, for their internal man is on fire with these evil passions.


[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.