Charity and Good Works (pt. 8)
v Doctrinal Series v
THE LOVE OF HEAVEN, THE LOVE OF THE WORLD, AND THE LOVE OF SELF.
(4) Love of self and love of the world in particular.
1. The love of self is wishing well to oneself only, and not to others except for the sake of self, not even to the church, one’s country, any human society, or to a fellow citizen; it is also doing good to them solely for the sake of one’s own reputation, honor, and glory; and when these are not perceived in the good done to others, saying in one’s heart, What matters it? Why should I do this? What will I gain by it? – and so leaving it undone. This makes evident that he who is in the love of self does not love the church, or his country, or society, or his fellow citizen, or anything truly good, but only himself and his own.
2. Man is in the love of self, when he has no regard for the neighbor in what he thinks and does, thus no regard for the public, still less for the Lord, but only for himself and those who belong to him, and therefore does everything for the sake of himself and those who belong to him, or if for the public’s sake, it is for appearance only, or if for the neighbor, it is to obtain his favor.
3. It is said, for the sake of himself and those who belong to him; for he who loves himself loves also those who belong to him, who are especially his children and grandchildren, and in general all who make one with him, whom he calls his own. Loving these is loving himself, for he regards them, as it were, in himself, and himself in them. Among those whom he calls his own are also included all who praise, and honor, and pay court to him. All others he indeed looks upon with his bodily eyes as men, but with the eyes of his spirit he scarcely regards them otherwise than as specters.
4. That man is in the love of self, who despises his neighbor in comparison with himself, and who regards his neighbor as an enemy if he does not favor him and does not venerate and pay court to him. Still more in the love of self is he who for these reasons hates his neighbor and persecutes him; and still more he who on this account burns with revenge against him and desires his destruction. Such at length love to be cruel.
5. The nature of the love of self can be made clear by comparison with heavenly love. Heavenly love is loving uses for the sake of the uses, or goods for the sake of the goods which a man does for the church, his country, human society, and the fellow citizen. But he who loves these for his own sake, loves them only as he loves his household servants, because they serve him. From this it follows that he who is in the love of self, wishes the church, his country, society, and his fellow citizens to serve him, instead of his serving them; he places himself above them, and them beneath himself.
6. Again, so far as anyone is in heavenly love, which is loving uses and goods and having a heartfelt delight in promoting them, so far he is led by the Lord, because that is the love in which the Lord is, and which is from Him. But so far as anyone is in the love of self, so far he is led by himself, and so far is led by what is his own [proprium]; and man’s own is nothing but evil, for it is his inherited evil, which is loving oneself more than God and the world more than heaven.
7. Moreover, the love of self is such, that so far as the reins are given to it, that is, so far as external bonds are removed, which are fear of the law and its penalties, of the loss of reputation, honor, wealth, office, or life, so far it rushes on until its desire is not only to rule over the whole world, but also over heaven, and even over God Himself. There is nowhere any limit or end to it. This lurks in everyone who is in the love of self, although it is not apparent before the world, where it is held in check by the reins and bonds just mentioned; and any such man, when the impossible blocks his way, remains quiet until the possible comes about. Because of all this the man who is in such a love is not aware that such an insane and limitless cupidity lurks within him. Nevertheless, that it is so, no one can help seeing in rulers and kings, to whom there are no such reins and bonds and impossibilities, who rush on and subjugate provinces and kingdoms, and so long as they are successful, aspire to unlimited power and glory. And still more is it visible in those who extend their dominion into heaven, and transfer to themselves the whole of the Lord’s Divine power. These continually desire more.
8. There are two kinds of dominion; one of love towards the neighbor, and another of love of self. These two kinds of dominion are opposites. He who exercises dominion from love towards the neighbor, desires the good of all, and loves nothing better than to perform uses, thus to serve others. Serving others is doing good from good will, and performing uses. Such is his love, and the delight of his heart. Moreover, so far as he is elevated to dignities he rejoices in it, not on account of the dignities, but on account of the uses which he can then perform to a greater extent and in a higher degree. Such is dominion in the heavens. But he who exercises dominion from love of self desires the good of none but himself and his own. The uses he performs are for the sake of his own honor and glory, which to him are the only uses. His end in serving others is that he himself may be served and honored, and may rule. He seeks dignities not for the sake of the goods he may do, but in order that he may gain eminence and glory, and may thereby be in his heart’s delight.
9. His love of dominion remains with everyone after his life in the world; but to those who have exercised dominion from love towards the neighbor there is also entrusted dominion in the heavens, and then it is not they who rule, but the uses and goods which they love; and when uses and goods rule, the Lord rules. But those who in the world exercised dominion from self-love, after their life in the world are made to abdicate, and are reduced to servitude. From all this it is known who these are who are in the love of self. It does not matter what they may seem to be externally, whether haughty or humble, since such things reside in the internal man, and, by most men, the internal man is kept hidden, while the external is trained to counterfeit what belongs to the love of the public and the neighbor, thus the contrary of what is within; and this too is done for the sake of self; for they know that loving the public and the neighbor interiorly affects all men, and that they to that extent gain esteem. This love thus affects men because heaven flows into it.
10. The evils that prevail with those who are in love of self are, in general, contempt of others, envy, enmity toward those who do not favor them, from which results hostility, hatred of various kinds, revenge, craft, deceit, unmercifulness, cruelty. And where such evils prevail, there is also a contempt of God, and of Divine things, which are the truths and goods of the church. If they honor these things, it is with the lips only, not with the heart. And because such evils are from love of self, like falsities are also from it; for falsities are from evils.
11. But love of the world is a desire to draw to oneself the wealth of others by any device whatever, to set the heart upon riches, and to permit the world to withdraw and lead one away from spiritual love, which is love towards the neighbor, that is, from heaven. Those are in love of the world who long to draw to themselves the goods of others by various devices, but especially those who wish to do so by craft and deceit, caring nothing for the good of the neighbor. Those who are in that love covet the goods of others, and so far as they do not fear the law and the loss of reputation on account of the gain, they get possession of others’ goods, and even plunder them.
12. But love of the world is not opposed to heavenly love to such a degree as the love of self is, because so great evils are not concealed within it.
13. This love is manifold. There is a love of wealth as a means of being raised to honors; a love of honors and dignities as means of acquiring wealth; a love of wealth for the sake of various uses that afford worldly pleasure; a love of wealth for the mere sake of wealth, such as the avaricious have; and so on. The end for the sake of which wealth is sought is called the use, and it is the end or use from which love draws its quality; for such as the end is for which anything is done, such is the love; all else serves it as means.
14. In a word, love of self and love of the world are directly opposite to love to the Lord and love towards the neighbor. Consequently love of self and love of the world, such as have just been described, are infernal loves, and these reign in hell, and also constitute hell in man. But love to the Lord and love towards the neighbor are heavenly loves, and these reign in heaven, and also constitute heaven in man.
To be continued …