• Doctrinal Series •
INTRODUCTION TO THE DOCTRINE
The doctrine of charity, which is the doctrine of life, was the doctrine itself in the ancient churches. Concerning these churches see in Arcana Coelestia (n. 1238, 2385). And that doctrine conjoined all churches, and thereby formed one church out of many. For they acknowledged all those as men of the church who lived in the good of charity, and called them brethren, however they might differ respecting truths, which at this day are called matters of faith. In these they instructed one another, which was among their works of charity; nor were they indignant if one did not accede to the opinion of another, knowing that everyone receives truth so far as he is in good. Because the ancient churches were such, therefore they were interior men; and because they were interior men they excelled in wisdom. For-
they who are in the good of love and charity, as to the internal man, are in heaven, and as to that are in an angelic society which is in similar good. Hence they enjoy an elevation of mind towards interior things, and, consequently, they are in wisdom; for wisdom can come from no other source than from heaven, that is, through heaven from the Lord; and in heaven there is wisdom, because there they are in good.
Wisdom consists in seeing truth from the light of truth; and the light of truth is the light which is in heaven.
But in process of time that ancient wisdom decreased; for-
as mankind removed themselves from the good of love to the Lord, and of love towards the neighbor, which love is called charity, they removed themselves in the same proportion from wisdom because, in the same proportion, they removed themselves from heaven. Hence it was that man, from being internal, became external, and this successively; and when he became external, he became also worldly and corporeal.
When such is his quality, he cares but little for the things of heaven; for the delights of earthly loves, and the evils which, from those loves, are delightful to him, then possess him entirely. And then the things which he hears concerning the life after death, concerning heaven and hell, in a word, concerning spiritual things, are as it were out of him, and not within him, as nevertheless they ought to be.
Hence also it is, that the doctrine of charity, which with the ancients was held in such high estimation, is at this day among the things that are lost. For who, at this day, knows what charity is, in the genuine sense of the term, and what, in the same sense, is meant by our neighbor? whereas, that doctrine not only teaches this, but innumerable things besides, of which not a thousandth part is known at this day. The whole Sacred Scripture is nothing else than the doctrine of love and charity, which the Lord also teaches, when He says:
Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind; this is the first and great commandment; the second is like unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: on these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets (Matt. 22:37-39).
“The law and the prophets” in each and all things are the Word.
To be continued . . .
[In the following doctrine in the book there are annexed to each section extracts from the Arcana Coelestia, because in these the same things are more fully explained.]