True Christian Religion #536

By Emanuel Swedenborg

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536. Yet all who do good for religious reasons, not only Christians, but also the heathen, are acceptable to the Lord and after death are adopted by Him. For the Lord said:

I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and [you took me in; I was naked and] 1 you clothed me; I was sick and you visited me; I was in prison and you came to me. And He said, To the extent that you have done this to one of the least of my brothers, you have done it to me. Come, you blessed ones, and possess as your inheritance the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, Matthew 25:31-41.

I will add here something new: after death all of those who do good for religious reasons reject the teaching of the present-day church about three Divine persons from eternity, as well as their faith directed to each of the three in turn. Instead they turn to the Lord God the Saviour and with pleasure they take in the teachings of the new church.

[2] The remainder, however, who have not practised charity for religious reasons are hearts of adamant, so hard they are. These people start by approaching three Gods, then the Father alone, and end by approaching none. They look upon the Lord God the Saviour as merely the son of Mary born of sleeping with Joseph, not as the Son of God; and then they shake off all the kinds of good and truth the new church possesses, Soon afterwards they join the ranks of the spirits of the dragon, and are driven away with them into desert regions or into caves situated at the outermost limits of the so-called Christian world. After some time, because they are separated from the new heaven, they rush into crimes and are therefore sent down to hell.

[3] Such is the fate of those who have not done charitable deeds for religious reasons, believing that no one can do good of himself without seeking merit. So they leave these deeds undone and join the flock of goats, who are damned and cast into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels, because they have not done as the sheep did (Matthew 25:41ff). They are not said in that passage to have done evil, but not to have done good. Those who do good, but without religious reasons, do evil, for

No one can serve two masters; either he would hate one and love the other, or hold to the first and neglect the second, Matthew 6:24.

The Lord says through Isaiah:

Wash yourselves, cleanse yourselves, remove the wickedness of your deeds from before my eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good. Then though your sins were as scarlet, they will become white as snow; though they were red like purple, they will be like wool, Isaiah 1:16-18.

He said to Jeremiah:

Stand in the gate of Jehovah's house, and there proclaim this word. Thus spoke Jehovah Zebaoth, the God of Israel, Make your ways good and your works also. Put not your trust in lying words, saying, This is Jehovah's Temple, Jehovah's Temple (that is, the church). Will you after stealing, murdering, and swearing falsely, then come and stand in my presence in this house, on which my name is written, and say, We were carried away, when you do all those abominations? Has this house become a robbers' cave? Behold, even I have seen it, this is the word of Jehovah, Jeremiah 7:2-4, 9-11.

Footnotes:

1. These words are omitted in the Latin, but are found where the same passage is quoted in 643, 2.

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