Selection from True Christian Religion ~ Emanuel Swedenborg
Charity and Good Works (pt. 11)
v Doctrinal Series v
II. THESE THREE LOVES, WHEN RIGHTLY SUBORDINATED, PERFECT MAN,
BUT WHEN NOT RIGHTLY SUBORDINATED,
THEY PERVERT AND INVERT HIM.
Something shall first be said of the subordination of these three universal loves, which are the love of heaven, the love of the world, and the love of self, and then of the influx and insertion of one into the other, and finally of man’s state according to that subordination. These three loves are related to each other like the three regions of the body, the highest of which is the head; the intermediate, the chest and abdomen, while the knees and feet and soles of the feet form the third. When the love of heaven constitutes the head, love of the world the chest and abdomen, and love of self the feet and their soles, man is in a perfect state in accordance with his creation, because the two lower loves then minister to the highest, as the body and all its parts minister to the head. So when the love of heaven constitutes the head, it flows into the love of the world, which is chiefly a love of wealth, and by means of wealth it performs uses; and through this latter love it flows mediately into the love of self, which is chiefly the love of dignities, and by means of these dignities it performs uses. Thus do these three loves, by the influx of one into the other, breathe forth uses.
Who does not comprehend, that when a man desires to perform uses from spiritual love, which is from the Lord and is what is meant by the love of heaven, his natural man performs them by means of his wealth and his other goods (the sensual man cooperating in its function), and that it is to his honor to produce them?
Who does not also comprehend that all the works that a man does with his body are done according to the state of his mind in the head; and if the mind is in the love of uses, the body by means of its members accomplishes them?
And this is so, because the will and the understanding in their principles are in the head, and in their derivatives in the body, as the will is in deeds, and the thought in speech, and comparatively as the prolific principle of the seed is in the whole tree and in every part of it, and through these produces fruit, which is its use. Or it is like fire and light within a crystalline vase which thereby becomes warm and shows the light through it.
And again, the spiritual sight of the mind together with the natural sight of the body, in one in whom these three loves are truly and rightly subordinated, because of the light that flows in through heaven from the Lord, may be likened to an African apple, which is transparent to the very center, where there is the repository of the seeds. Something like this is meant by these words of the Lord,
The lamp of the body is the eye; if the eye be single (that is, sound), the whole body is full of light (Matt. 6:22; Luke 11:34).
No man of sound reason can condemn wealth, for it is in the general body like the blood in a man; nor can he condemn the honors attached to office, for they are the hands of the king and the pillars of society, provided the natural and sensual love of them is subordinated to spiritual love. Moreover, there are administrative offices in heaven and honors attached to them; but those who administer them love nothing better than to perform uses, because they are spiritual.
But when love of the world or of wealth forms the head, that is, when it is the ruling love, man puts on a wholly different state; for then the love of heaven is exiled from the head and betakes itself to the body.
The man who is in this state prefers the world to heaven; he worships God indeed, but from merely natural love which places merit in all worship; he also does good to the neighbor, but for the sake of recompense.
To such, heavenly things are like clothing, clad in which they appear before the eyes of men to be walking in brightness, but before the eyes of angels they appear indistinct, for when love of the world possesses the internal man, and the love of heaven the external, the former makes all things belonging to the church obscure and hides them as under a veil.
But this love is of great variety, worse in the degree that it verges toward avarice, in which the love of heaven grows black; so too if it verges toward pride and eminence over others from love of self. It is different if it verges towards prodigality, and is less hurtful if it has in view as an end the splendors of the world, as palaces, ornaments, magnificent clothing, servants, horses and carriages pompously arrayed, and other like things.
The character of every love is determined by the end which it regards and intends.
This love may be compared to blackish glass, which smothers the light and variegates it only in dark and evanescent hues. It is also like mists and clouds which take away the rays of the sun. It is also like new, unfermented wine, which tastes sweet but disturbs the stomach.
Such a man when viewed from heaven looks like a hunchback, walking with his head down looking at the ground, and when he raises his head towards heaven he strains the muscles, and quickly drops it down again. The ancients in the church called such men Mammons, and the Greeks called them Plutos.
(True Christian Religion 403 – 404)
To be continued …