Charity and Good Works (pt. 13)
v Doctrinal Series v
BUT ACCORDING TO THE QUALITY OF HIS GOOD.
Man is born not for the sake of himself but for the sake of others; that is, he is born not to live for himself alone but for others; otherwise there could be no cohesive society, nor any good therein. It is a common saying that every man is a neighbor to himself; but the doctrine of charity teaches how this is to be understood, namely,-
that everyone should provide for himself the necessaries of life, as food, clothing, a dwelling, and other things which are necessarily required in the social life in which he is, and this not only for himself, but also for his family, nor for the present alone, but also for the future. For unless a man acquires for himself the necessaries of life, he is not in a condition to exercise charity, since he is in want of everything.
But how every man ought to be a neighbor to himself may be seen from the following comparison:
Every man ought to provide his body with food; this must be first, but the end should be that he may have a sound mind in a sound body; and every man ought to provide his mind with food, namely, with such things as pertain to intelligence and judgment; but the end should be that he may thereby be in a state to serve his fellow-citizens, society, his country, the church, and thus the Lord. He who does this provides well for himself to eternity.
From this it is plain what is first in time, and what is first in end, and that the first in end is that to which all things look. It is also like building a house; first the foundation must be laid; but the foundation must be for the house, and the house for a dwellingplace. He who believes himself to be a neighbor to himself in the first place or primarily, is like one who regards the foundation, not the dwelling, as the end; and yet the dwelling is itself the first and the last end, and the house with its foundation is only a means to the end.
To be continued …