Charity and Good Works (pt. 12)
v Doctrinal Series v
(THE LOVE OF HEAVEN, THE LOVE OF THE WORLD, AND THE LOVE OF SELF)
WHEN RIGHTLY SUBORDINATED, PERFECT MAN,
BUT WHEN NOT RIGHTLY SUBORDINATED,
THEY PERVERT AND INVERT HIM.
[W]hen love of self or love of ruling constitutes the head, the love of heaven passes down through the body to the feet; and as that love increases, the love of heaven descends through the ankles to the soles, and if it increases still further, it passes to the heels and is trodden upon. There is a love of ruling arising from love of the neighbor, and a love of ruling arising from love of self. Those who are in the love of ruling from love of the neighbor seek dominion to the end that they may perform uses to the public and to individuals; and to such, therefore, dominion is entrusted in the heavens.
Emperors, kings, and noblemen, who have been born and brought up to positions of authority, if they humble themselves before God, are sometimes less in that love than those who are of humble origin and who from pride are more eager than others for places of pre-eminence. But to those who are in the love of ruling from love of self, the love of heaven is like a bench on which, to please the people, they place their feet, but which, when the people are out of sight, they toss into a corner or out of doors. This is because they love themselves alone, and consequently immerse their wills and the thoughts of their minds in what is their own [proprium], which viewed in itself is inherited evil, and this evil is diametrically opposed to the love of heaven.
The evils of those who are in the love of rule from love of self, are in general as follows:
Contempt of others, envy, enmity against those who do not favor them; consequently hostility, hatred, revenge, unmercifulness, ferocity, and cruelty;
and where such evils prevail, there is also contempt of God and of Divine things, which are the truths and goods of the church; or if they honor these it is with the lips only, lest they should be denounced by the church authorities and censured by others.
But this love is one thing with the clergy and another with the laity. With the clergy it climbs upward, when the reins are given to it, even until they wish to be gods; but with the laity until they wish to be kings; to such an extent do the hallucinations of that love carry their minds away.
Since in the perfect man the love of heaven holds the highest place, and forms, as it were, the head of all that follows from it, the love of the world being beneath it like the chest beneath the head, and the love of self beneath this like the feet, it follows, that if love of self were to form the head, the man would be completely inverted. He would then appear to the angels like one lying bent over, with his head to the ground and his back toward heaven; and when worshiping, he would appear to be frolicking on his hands and feet like a panther’s cub. Furthermore, such men would appear under the forms of various beasts with two heads, one head above having the face of a wild animal, and the other below having a human face, which would be constantly thrust forward by the upper one and compelled to kiss the earth. All these are sensual men, and are such as were described above.
To be continued …