Arcana Coelestia #2425

By Emanuel Swedenborg

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2425. 'But I shall not be able to escape into the mountain' means doubt as to whether he would be able to possess good that flows from charity, that is, to think and act from that good. This is clear from the meaning of 'a mountain' as love and charity, dealt with in 795, 1430.

[2] With regard to that doubt, people governed by the affection for truth possess the affection for good within their affection for truth. But that affection for good is in so much obscurity that they do not perceive and so do not know what the affection for good is, or what genuine charity is. They do indeed think that they know, but they do so from truth, and so from acquired knowledge, but not from good itself. Nevertheless they perform the good works of charity, not to merit anything by doing so, but from a sense of obedience. They act in this way insofar as they understand it to be the truth. For they allow the Lord to lead them away from the obscurity surrounding good by means of truth which to them looks like the truth. For example, because they do not know what the neighbour is they do good to everyone they imagine to be their neighbour, especially the poor, who call themselves the poor because they lack worldly riches; they do good to orphans and widows because they are termed such; to strangers because they are such; and so on with the rest. They behave in this way without knowing what is really meant by the poor, orphans, widows, strangers, and many more. Nevertheless because within their affection there is, lying in obscurity, as stated, the affection for good by means of which the Lord leads them to do those things, good is at the same time present with them interiorly. Within that good the angels are present with them, and there take pleasure in the appearances of truth for which those people have an affection.

[3] But those who are governed by good that flows from charity, and from this by an affection for truth, exercise discrimination when performing all those deeds, for they dwell in light, and the light of truth has no other source than good, because the Lord flows in by way of good. They do not do good to the poor, orphans, widows, and strangers just because these are so termed, for they know that the good, whether poor or rich, are pre-eminently the neighbour; for by the good, good is done to others, and therefore insofar as they do good to the good they are doing it through them to others. They know also how to discriminate between one good and another, and so between one good person and another. They call the common good itself their neighbour to a higher degree, for within this neighbour the good of a greater number of persons is seen. The Lord's kingdom on earth, which is the Church, they acknowledge as being their neighbour to an even higher degree, towards whom charity should be shown; and the Lord's kingdom in heaven to an even higher degree than that. People however who set the Lord above all of these, who adore Him alone and love Him above all things, derive all degrees of the neighbour from Him, for in the highest sense the Lord alone is the Neighbour and so is all good insofar as this is derived from Him.

[4] Those however whose disposition is quite the reverse derive degrees of the neighbour from themselves and acknowledge as neighbour only those who show them favour and are subservient to them. Calling these and no others their brothers and friends, they discriminate between them only to the degree that they make one with themselves. All this shows what the neighbour is, namely that everyone is the neighbour according to the love which governs him; and he is truly the neighbour who is governed by love to the Lord and charity towards the neighbour, but in a different way for everyone. Thus it is the good itself with each one that is the determining factor.

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Thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.