Charity and Good Works (pt. 39)
v Doctrinal Series v
AND THE SECOND IS TO DO GOODS THAT ARE OF USE TO THE NEIGHBOR
At the present day it is believed that charity is simply doing good, and that then one does not do evil; consequently that the first thing of charity is to do good, and the second not to do evil. But it is wholly the reverse; the first thing of charity is to put away evil, and the second to do good; for it is a universal law in the spiritual world and from that in the natural world also, that so far as one does not will evil he wills good; thus that so far as he turns away from hell from which all evil ascends, so far he turns towards heaven from which all good descends; consequently also, that so far as anyone rejects the devil he is accepted by the Lord. One cannot stand with his head vibrating between the two, and pray to both at once; for of such the Lord says:
I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot; would that thou wert cold or hot. So because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spit thee out of My mouth (Apoc. 3:15-16).
Who can skirmish with his troop between two armies, favoring both? Who can be evilly disposed towards the neighbor, and at the same time well disposed towards him? Does not evil then lie hidden in the good? Although the evil that so hides itself does not appear in the man’s acts, it manifests itself in many things when they are reflected upon rightly. The Lord says:
No servant can serve two masters. . . . Ye cannot serve God and mammon (Luke 16:13).
But no one is able to purify himself from evils by his own power and his own abilities; yet neither can it be done without the power and abilities of man as if these were his own. If these were not as if they were his own, no man would be able to fight against the flesh and its lusts, which everyone is commanded to do; he would not even be able to think of any combat, thus his mind would be opened to evils of every sort, and would be restrained from them as deeds only by the laws of justice established in the world, and their penalties; and thus he would be inwardly like a tiger, a leopard, or a serpent, which never reflect at all upon the cruel delights of their loves. From this it is clear that as man, in contrast with wild beasts, is rational, he ought to resist evils by the power and abilities given him by the Lord, which in every sense appear to him to be his own; and this appearance has been granted by the Lord to every man for the sake of regeneration, imputation, conjunction, and salvation.