Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. (Matt 25:34-40)
What are your works? That this signifies about services and uses… for these are goods. All the goods which are called goods of charity are nothing but uses, and uses are nothing but works for the neighbor, for our country, for the church, for the Lord’s kingdom. Moreover regarded in itself charity itself does not become charity until it comes into act and becomes work. For to love anyone, and not do him good when we have the power, is not to love him; but to do him good when we have the power, and to do it from our hearts, this is to love him; and then all things of charity toward him are contained within the very deed or work; for a man’s works are the complex of all things of his charity and faith, and are what are called spiritual goods, and indeed become goods by exercise, that is, by means of uses.
As the angels who are in heaven are in good from the Lord, they long for nothing more than to perform uses. These are the very delights of their life, and it is also according to uses that they enjoy bliss and happiness, which likewise the Lord teaches in Matthew:
The Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels; and then shall He render to everyone according to his works (Matt. 16:27);
by “works” here are not meant works such as they appear in the outward form, but such as they are in their inward form, namely, such as is the charity contained in them; the angels regard works in no other way.
And because a man’s works are the complex of all things of his charity and faith, and the life causes charity to be charity and faith to be faith, thus good, therefore the Lord loved John more than the rest of His disciples, and he lay on His breast at supper (John 21:20); for by him were represented the goods or works of charity; for which reason also the Lord said unto him, “Follow Me,” and not to Peter, by whom was represented faith. Wherefore faith, which is “Peter,” said with indignation, “Lord, what shall this man do? Jesus said unto him, If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou Me” (John 21:21-23). By this was also foretold that faith would despise works, and yet that these are near the Lord, as may also be clearly seen from the Lord’s words to the sheep and to the goats (Matt. 25:34-46 above), wherein nothing but works are recounted. And that faith would reject the Lord is evident from the representation by Peter when he denied Him thrice; that he did this at night, signifies the last time of the church, when there is no longer any charity; that he did it thrice signifies that this condition is then complete; that it was before the cock crew, signifies before newness of the church would arise, for the twilight and morning which follow the night signify the first of the church.