True Christian Religion #414

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414. The reason one's country is more the neighbour than one's community is that it is composed of a number of communities, so that love directed towards it is wider and higher. Moreover, loving one's country is loving the well-being of the people. One's country is the neighbour because it is a kind of parent; it is where one was born; it has fed and feeds one; it has protected and protects one from injury. One should do good to the country one loves according to its needs, some of which are natural, some spiritual. Natural needs are concerned with its secular life and order, spiritual ones with its spiritual life and order.

[2] There is a law engraved on the hearts of men that one's country should be loved, not as a person loves himself, but more than oneself. This law commands, and this is what every righteous man declares, that if one's country is threatened with destruction by an enemy or any other danger, it is a noble act to die in its defence, and a soldier should take pride in shedding his blood for it. People say this because one's country ought to be loved that dearly. It needs to be known that those who love their country and do good to it as the result of their good will, after death love the Lord's kingdom, since this is then their country; and those who love the Lord's kingdom love the Lord, because the Lord is all in all to His kingdom.

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