Conjugial Love #405

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405. 16. A love of little children is of one character in spiritual partners, and of another character in natural ones. A love of little children in spiritual partners is similar in appearance to a love of little children in natural partners, only it is more interior and so more tender, because that love springs from innocence, and from a more immediate reception and thus a more present perception of it in them. For spiritual people are spiritual in the measure of the character they acquire from innocence.

On the other hand, however, on their becoming fathers and mothers, after they have tasted the sweetness of the innocence in their little children, the love they have for their children is quite different from that of natural fathers and mothers for theirs. Spiritual parents love their children for their spiritual intelligence and moral life, loving them thus for their fear of God and for their piety of conduct or life, and at the same time for their affection for and application to useful endeavors of service to society, thus for the virtues and good habits in them. Out of a love for these traits principally do they provide for and supply their needs. Consequently, if they do not see such traits in them, they estrange their heart from them and only out of duty do anything for them.

[2] In natural fathers and mothers, a love of little children springs, indeed, from innocence also, but when this innocence is received by them, it is wrapped around their own personal love. Consequently it is as a result of that love and at the same time innocence that they love their little children, kissing them, hugging them, carrying them, clasping them to their breasts, and cajoling them beyond all measure, and looking upon them as being of one heart and one soul with themselves. Later, then, after the period of their early childhood, to the age of puberty and beyond, when innocence is no longer operative, they love them, but not for any fear of God or for any piety of conduct or life, nor for any rational or moral intelligence in them, and they pay little or almost no attention to their inner affections and thus to any virtues and good habits, but only to their external qualities to which they are favorably disposed. It is to these latter qualities that they attach, fasten and cement their love. Therefore they also close their eyes to their faults, excusing them and encouraging them. The reason for this is that in them the love of their progeny is also love of self, and this attaches itself to its object superficially, and does not extend deeper into it, as the object does not into the love.

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Thanks to the General Church of the New Jerusalem for the permission to use this translation. The full title of this translation is "DELIGHTS OF WISDOM RELATING TO CONJUGIAL LOVE".