Mutual Love Differs from Friendship

Excerpts from Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

Friendship is not charity, and still less is politeness charity – these are degrees below charity; and the more they derive from charity the more sincere they are.

Mutual love differs from friendship in this respect – that mutual love regards the good which is in a man, and because it is directed to good, it is directed to him who is in good; but friendship regards the man; and this also is mutual love when it regards the man from good, or for the sake of good; but when it does not regard him from good or for the sake of good, but for the sake of self which it calls good, then friendship is not mutual love, but approaches the love of self, and insofar as it approaches this, so far it is opposite to mutual love. In itself mutual love is nothing else than charity toward the neighbor; for by the neighbor in the internal sense for by the neighbor in the internal sense nothing else is signified than good, and in the supreme sense the Lord, because all good is from Him, and He is good itself.

The brain, like heaven, is in the sphere of ends which are uses; for whatever flows in from the Lord is an end looking to the salvation of the human race. This end is that which reigns in heaven, and thereby reigns likewise in the brain; for the brain, which is where the mind is, looks to ends in the body, in order that the body may subserve the soul, so that the soul may be happy to eternity. But there are societies that have no end or purpose of use, except to be among friends, male and female, and to have pleasures there, thus seeking their own gratification only, and making much of themselves exclusively, whether at home or publicly, it being all for the same end. Of such spirits there are at this day more societies than anyone could believe. As soon as they approach, their sphere begins to work, and extinguishes in others the affections of truth and good; and when these have been extinguished, then these spirits are in the pleasures of their friendship.

These are the obstructions of the brain, and induce on it stupidity. Many societies of such spirits have been with me, and their presence was perceived by a dullness, sluggishness, and loss of affection; and I have sometimes spoken with them. They are pests and banes, although in the civic life of this world they had appeared good, delightful, witty, and also talented; for they know the proprieties of society, and how to insinuate themselves thereby, especially into friendships. What it is to be a friend to good, or what the friendship of good is, they neither know, nor desire to know. A sad lot awaits them; for at last they live in squalor, and in such stupidity that scarcely any human apprehension remains. For it is the end that makes the man, and such as is the end, such is the man; consequently such is his human after death.


There are very many societies in the other life that are called societies of friendship. They are composed of those who in the life of the body preferred to every other delight that of conversation, and who loved those with whom they conversed, not caring whether they were good or evil, provided they were entertaining; and thus who were not friends to good or to truth. They who have been such in the life of the body are such also in the other life, in which they associate solely from the delight of conversation. Many such societies have been with me, but at a distance, being seen chiefly a little to the right above the head. That they were present it was given me to note by a torpor and dullness, and by a privation of the delight in which I was, the presence of such societies inducing these effects. For wherever they come they take delight away from others, and wonderful to say, they make it their own; for they turn away the spirits who are with others, and turn them to themselves, whereby they transfer another’s delight to themselves; and as they are on this account troublesome and injurious to those who are in good, they are therefore kept away by the Lord, lest they should come near to the heavenly societies. From this it was given me to know how much injury friendship occasions man as to his spiritual life if the person and not good is regarded; everyone may indeed be friendly to another, but still he should be most friendly to what is good.

(Arcana Coelestia 1158:2; 3875:5; 4054; 4804)
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About mike

Finding out that the Lord is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, and from the human race the angelic heaven would be formed, my entire focus on life changed. The reason for my creation was to perform Divine uses - The Divine Providence looks to eternal ends. My gain, honor or reputation no longer could be the focal point of what drives the engine. One day I will lay aside this material body and will wake up in the spiritual world never to return; there will be a continuation of life, and my ruling love will be what guides me to my final situation. 'Where a tree falls, there will it lay' (Ecc 11:3) We only have a few years in these bodies compared to eternity. What is fossilized on our souls in this short period is important to how we spend eternity. We are not left to blind faith, The Lord has come in His Word to reveal rationally how we can be made 'a vessel of honor, able for the master's use.' I truly hope the post create a thirst. If I can be of service, please do not hesitate to email me. --Mike
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