Commentary

 

Helpful Ways to Judge

     

By Rev. Jeffrey Smith

Silver scales of justice.

You are the boss of a small company. You are looking to hire a new employee to fill a vacancy. The first applicant steps into the room and sits down. As you look over the application, you realize there is no resume. You must have overlooked that because you are still kind of new at being a boss. You go ahead with the interview anyway... maybe this will be interesting. After some getting-to-know-you questions, you ask the applicant about references and prior work experience. The applicant thinks for a second and then says, “don’t you know that Jesus told us not to judge?”

This is the second of two articles about judgment. The first one was about the types of judgment we ought to avoid: condemning, self-righteous, hypocritical, spiritual judgments. In this one, we will look at the type of judgment the Lord gives us permission to do.

What are the ways we can judge and even ought to judge? What are some ways in which we can be helpful once we have judged righteously?

To begin with, maybe we should just verify that it is ok for us to be judging at all. The real test is whether it makes sense in the Lord’s eyes.

So, let’s take a quick look at some verses on judgment that we used in the previous sermon:

“He who is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” — This is NOT about NOT judging, it’s about not destroying and killing somebody’s spirit by judging them with our ideas (no matter how true they may be).

“Judge not that you be not judged....” — This really means “condemn not”, meaning that we cannot judge a person’s spiritual character, because we can only see what is on the outside.

“First, remove the plank out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother's eye.” — Note that Jesus doesn’t say “don’t remove your brother’s speck.” He says, “first remove your plank.”

The Lord does give us permission to judge people’s actions. Actually, He tells us that we should. In Leviticus we are told,

“You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty. In righteousness you shall judge your neighbor. You shall not go about as a talebearer among your people (Leviticus 19:15-16)

Here, the Lord commands the Israelites to judge their neighbor in righteousness. And, just in case anyone was looking for a little wiggle room for their habit of gossiping, I left in the Lord’s command saying, “you shall not go about as a talebearer.” Spreading negative stories is not an act of love, but rather is more likely an act of selfishness.

New Church teachings also support the practice of making certain kinds of judgments. The following from the book True Christianity offers a very practical reason for judging:

“When anyone chooses from three or four people a steward to run his household, or to be a servant, does he not investigate that person’s internal self, and choose one who is honest and faithful, and so love him?” (True Christianity 410)

Here's a somewhat similar teaching from Apocalypse Explained:

"It is permissible to everyone to think about the moral and civil life of another, and to judge of it; without such thought and judgment concerning others, no civil society could subsist." (Apocalypse Explained 629.14)

There it is: we can judge the moral and civil life of another. We can judge somebody’s actions, and we can also judge based on those actions whether or not a person appears to be acting honestly and faithfully. The judges in our courts make these kinds of decisions all the time. They have to determine whether or not a person did something with ill intent or simply accidentally.

OK. So what? So what if we judge righteously? Then what?

Well, we can use it to determine who our friends should be, or who to hire for a job. But is that all? Is it used just to keep away people that we don’t want near us? In some cases — for example in families and other unavoidable situations — it’s impossible to distance ourselves from anybody, and yet, we can still apply those judgments for good.

Loving our neighbor doesn’t mean loving the person, it means loving the good that we see in that person. Without exception, every human being is a mix of good and evil. Our goal in loving is to support the good. What, then, do we do about the evil we see? Are we supposed to love that evil in some way?

To answer this, we look to the verses following the Lord’s words about the speck and the plank. He continues by saying,

“Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you in pieces.” (Matthew 7:6)

One way to apply the Lord’s words here is to not give our love and thus support to the bad habits we see in people. That love will be destroyed, and it will not serve love’s purpose of helping our neighbor toward heaven. In order for our love to be useful, we must use our ability to judge and recognize the swine and dogs — that is, the bad habits in our neighbor and also in ourselves.

Right, so, love and support good habits... what about the bad habits? The Lord tells us not to cast our pearls before swine. So, what DO we do with the swine?

This isn’t a simple situation, so there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer. We have to use our judgment and the Lord’s guidance to try to find the best way to respond. Here are some possible ways to approach the bad habits we observe in others.

The first thing we can do is ignore a bad habit that isn’t hurting anybody. In the story of Noah about his drunkenness, Shem and Japheth walked into the tent backwards to cover their father’s nakedness. They didn’t even look at him. We are told that angels act in this way also — they love and support the good in their neighbor while hardly noticing their sins.

The second thing we should do is protect the
innocent. In one passage, New Church teachings offer insight into the appropriate occupation of a judge. A judge inflicts a penalty on a guilty person in order to prevent evil being done to innocent people. And our judgment can serve
the same purpose — protection of the innocent.

Those are two things we can do when we judge righteously: first we can ignore it and support their good habits, and second, if a person’s sin might hurt someone, we should first protect good and innocence.

And finally, there is a third option: confront the transgressor.

We need to consider carefully how we confront someone whose actions or words merit correction. In this kind of confrontation, as with any other interaction, we might consider whether we are offering love or truth? Ask yourself what the person really needs. Or a better idea: ask the person what they need? “Hey, do you need some helpful ideas here, or do you just need somebody to listen?” It’s very possible that the person we are confronting is experiencing a difficult life situation, and they simply need some love.

And then, when we do offer truth, check if your words are really helpful by submitting them to three tests: kind, true, and useful.

First test... is the thing we are saying kind—meaning, are we really coming from love and a desire to help the person get to heaven, or are we being a little bit self-righteous or condemnatory. Even when we are offering our ideas, it should be from a place of love.

Second test... is the thing we are saying actually true, or is our perception perhaps skewing the situation. It’s very possible that we are misinterpreting someone’s actions and responding inappropriately? To avert misinterpretation, it is usually a good idea to listen to the person first.

Third test... are our words useful? Sure, we want to help, and as far as we can tell, it’s true... but is it really, actually, truly going to help the person in their situation? We may be trying to be kind, and we think it’s true, but if the person is in a hard situation, then it may not be helpful for that person.

It can be quite useful for someone to receive some outside perspective on their words and actions. If they are coming across as a jerk, they really do deserve to know. New Church teachings inform us that it can be really useful to have some outside input regarding our external appearance, otherwise we continue live in our own fantasies (See Heaven and Hell 487).

So, are you ok with being judged? With the measure you judged, are you ready for it to be measured back? Are you ready for others to do unto you as you do unto them?

If your answer is yes, then as you go about your daily life judging righteously, first think about whether the problem can simply be ignored while supporting goodness. If it can’t be, then first make sure that innocence and goodness are being protected. And if a person’s bad habit needs to be confronted, then choose your words very, very carefully. Are your words kind, true, and useful?

(Adapted from a sermon by Jeffrey Smith, April, 2021)

From Swedenborg's Works

 

Apocalypse Explained #629

Study this Passage

        
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629. Rise, measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein, signifies that he should explore the church, what is its quality in respect to the reception of Divine truth and Divine good, and thence in respect to the worship of the Lord. This is evident from the signification of "to measure," as being to explore what the quality of a thing is (of which presently); from the signification of "temple," as being in the highest sense the Lord's Divine Human in relation to Divine truth, and in a relative sense heaven and the church in respect to Divine truth proceeding from the Lord (of which above, n. 220); from the signification of "altar," as being in the highest sense the Lord's Divine Human in relation to divine good, and in a relative sense heaven and the church in respect to Divine good proceeding from the Lord (of which also above, n. 391, 490, 496); and from the signification of "them that worship," as being worship. "They that worship" signifies the worship of the Lord, because worship consists in the adoration of the Lord, and because in the spiritual sense nothing of person is meant, but only the thing abstracted from persons (of which see above, n. 99, 100, 270, 325, 625); this is why "they that worship" signifies adoration and worship. From this it can be seen that "Rise, measure the temple of God, and the altar, and them that worship therein," signifies to explore the church, what is its quality in respect to the reception of Divine truth and Divine good proceeding from the Lord, and thence in respect to worship.

(References: 2 Kings 13:20-21; Apocalypse Explained 99-100; Revelation 11:1)


[2] Evidently "to measure" in the spiritual sense does not mean to measure, for it was commanded to measure not only the temple and the altar, but also them that worship therein; therefore "to measure the temple and the altar" must involve that which is signified by their measures, thus that which is signified by the "length," the "breadth," and the "height," for the expression "to measure them that worship in the temple," cannot be used unless "to measure" signifies to explore the quality of the persons or of the thing.

[3] That "to measure" signifies to explore the quality of a thing, and to designate it, can be seen from the passages in the Word where "to measure" and "measures" are mentioned, as in the following in Ezekiel:

The man that had the line of flax and the measuring reed in his hand measured the building, likewise the threshold of the gate, the porch of the gate in the house, the porch of the gate from the house, the door of the gate, the gate from the roof of the bedchamber, and many other things which he measured as to breadth, length, and height (Ezekiel 40:3, 5, 6, 8, 11, 13, 17, et seq.);

and afterwards:

He measured the temple, the lintel over the door, the wall of the house, and the house itself, as to breadth and length (Ezekiel 41:1-5, 13, 14, 22);

again:

He measured the inner court, and the things of that court (Ezekiel 42);

finally:

He measured the altar and the things of the altar (Ezekiel 43:13, et seq.).

Moreover, the measures were designated in numbers, that is, how many reeds, how many cubits, and how many palms; which shows that "to measure" these does not mean to measure but to designate the quality of the thing, and this is designated by the several things measured, namely, the "building," the "gate," the "porch," the "temple," the "upper lintel," the "wall," the "court," and the "altar." "The building, the house, and the temple," signify the church; "the door and the gate" signify truth that introduces; and "the porch and court" signify all things that are without the church and yet look to it, and these are all things with the man of the church that are in his natural man; for the church itself with man is in the internal or spiritual man or mind, thus inwardly with him; while all things that are in the external or natural man or mind, thus that reside without, correspond to the things that are of the church itself, which, as was said, are in the internal or spiritual man or mind. These external things are what are signified by the "porch" without the house, and by "the court." What the qualities of these things were to be is here designated by measures and numbers; for these chapters treat of the Lord's church that was to come, and that is called the internal church, and this is thus described. Anyone can see that such measurements would be of no account unless each measurement signified something; but what each signifies can be seen from the signification of the thing measured, and its quality from the signification of the measure as expressed in number.

(References: Ezekiel 40:5-6, 41:13-14, 42:1)


[4] There are only three things that are measured, namely, breadth, length, and height; and "breadth" signifies the truth of the church, "length" the good of the church, and "height" both of these as to degrees; the degrees of truth and good are the quality of truth and good as interior or higher and as exterior or lower. Such is the signification of these three dimensions, because breadth is predicated of heaven from south to north, and length from east to west, and height from the third heaven which is in things highest to the first heaven which is in things lowest. And as those in heaven who dwell from south to north are in the truths of doctrine, so "breadth" signifies the truth of heaven or of the church; and as those who dwell in heaven from east to west are in the good of love, so "length" signifies the good of heaven or of the church; and as those who dwell in the third heaven, who are the most wise, are in things highest, while those who dwell in the first heaven, who are relatively simple, are in things lowest, so "height" signifies wisdom and intelligence as to their degrees. These things therefore are what are designated by measurements in general.

[5] In the same:

Son of man, show the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities, and may measure the form when they have been ashamed of all things that they have done; the form of the house and the arrangement thereof, and the goings out thereof and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, also teach them all the statutes thereof, and all the arrangements thereof, and all the laws thereof, and write them before their eyes, that they may keep all the form thereof and all the statutes thereof, and do them (Ezekiel 43:10, 11).

That "to measure the temple" or "house" signifies to investigate and explore what is the quality of the church in respect to truth and good, can be seen from its being said "that they may measure the form of the house, the goings out and the comings in thereof;" also "that they may keep all the form thereof;" which cannot mean the form of the temple merely in respect to form, but in respect to those things that are signified by the temple; for it is added "that they may be ashamed of their iniquities that they have done," which signifies shame for departing from the laws and statutes of the church; therefore it is added, "that he may teach them all the statutes thereof, all the descriptions, 1 and all the laws thereof;" which shows that the "temple" signifies the church with its truths and goods, for these are the things that are to be kept, and this is signified by "keeping all the form of the house" or "temple." The "temple" signifies in the Word the church in respect to truth, and "the house of God" the church in respect to good; for the temple was of stone, but the house of God in ancient times was of wood; and "stones" signify truths, and "wood" signifies good.

(References: Ezekiel 43:10-11)


[6] In Zechariah:

I lifted up mine eyes and saw, and behold a man in whose hand was a measuring line; and I said, Whither goest thou? And he said unto me, To measure Jerusalem, to see how great is the breadth thereof, and how great is the length thereof; and he said Jerusalem shall inhabit the suburbs by reason of the multitude of men and beasts in the midst of it (Zechariah 2:1, 2, 4).

This is said of the Lord's coming and of the establishment of a New Church by Him, as can be seen from verses 10 and 11 of the same chapter. "Jerusalem" signifies that New Church, and "to measure" it signifies to explore and thus to know what and how great it will be; "breadth" signifies the truth of its doctrine, and "length" the good of its love (as just above); therefore it is said "To measure Jerusalem, to see how great is the breadth thereof, and how great is the length thereof." Evidently "Jerusalem" here means the church, and not the city Jerusalem, for about the time of the Lord's coming Jerusalem was not so great and such as is here described, that is, that "Jerusalem should inhabit the suburbs by reason of the multitude of men and beasts in the midst of it;" but this means the multitude of the nations that will be added to the church, "Jerusalem, in the midst of it," signifying the church consisting of those who will receive interiorly the Divine proceeding from the Lord, and "suburbs" the church consisting of those who will receive it exteriorly. For the church of the Lord is internal and external; in the internal church are those who are in intelligence and wisdom, and thus in the higher heavens, but in the external church are those who are in knowledges and cognitions of truth and good from the Word, and in no interior intelligence and wisdom, and who are therefore in the lower heavens; the former are called spiritual, the latter spiritual-natural, and the spiritual are meant by those who are "in the midst of Jerusalem," and the spiritual-natural by those who are "in the suburbs." "Men and beasts" mean those who are in intelligence and thence in the good of life, "men" those who are in intelligence, and "beasts" those who are in the natural affection of good, and thus in the good of life.

(References: Revelation 11:10-11; Zechariah 2:1-2, 2:10-11)


[7] Like things are signified by these words in Revelation:

The angel who talked with me had a golden reed, to measure the city the New Jerusalem, the gates thereof and the wall thereof; and he measured the wall, a hundred and forty-four cubits, which is the measure of a man, that is, of an angel (Revelation 21:15, 17).

Here, too, "the New Jerusalem" means a New Church, and the "city" its doctrine, "its wall" signifies Divine truth defending, the number "one hundred and forty-four" signifies all truths and goods in the complex; this number is said to be "the measure of a man, that is, of an angel," which could not be said unless "measure" signified quality. But this will be explained in its proper place hereafter.

[8] In Ezekiel:

When the man went out toward the east, in whose hand was the line, he measured a thousand by the cubit, then he made me to pass through the waters, the waters were to the ankles; again he measured a thousand and made me to pass through the waters, waters to the knees; and he measured a thousand and made me to pass through the waters, waters to the loins; again he measured a thousand, it was a river that I could not pass through because the waters were high, waters of swimming, a river that was not passed through. And behold, on the bank of the river were many trees on this side and on that side; and every living soul that creepeth, and whithersoever the river cometh, shall live; whence there is much fish (Ezekiel 47:3-5, 7, 9).

This describes how intelligence, which those have who are of the church, increases by the reception of Divine truth proceeding from the Lord. Divine truth proceeding from the Lord is signified by "the waters issuing from under the threshold of the house towards the east, and going down from the right side of the house from the south of the altar," as is said in verse 1 of this chapter; the "east" signifies love to the Lord, since the east in heaven is where the Lord appears as a sun; and thence the "right side" is where Divine truth is received in the greatest light, and that side is called the south; therefore it is added "from the south of the altar." How intelligence increases by the reception of Divine truth proceeding from the Lord is described by the "waters" which the prophet passed through, which first reached "to the ankles," afterwards "to the knees," then "to the loins," and at length were so high that they "could not be passed through;" "the waters to the ankles" signify such intelligence as the sensual and natural man has, for "ankles" signify what is sensual and natural; "the waters to the knees" signify such intelligence as the spiritual-natural man has, for "knees" signify what is spiritual-natural; "the waters to the loins" signify such intelligence as the spiritual man has, for the "loins" signify the marriage of truth and good, which is spiritual; "the waters that could not be passed through" signify celestial intelligence, which is called wisdom, such as the celestial man or an angel of the third heaven has; and because this is ineffable, it is said to be "a river that could not be passed through," and because it is far above the natural man, these waters are called "waters of swimming."

The "river" which is from these waters signifies intelligence and wisdom; the cognitions of truth and good and also perceptions are signified by "many trees on the bank of the river on this side and on that side," "trees" signifying cognitions and perceptions; life therefrom to all things in the natural man, both cognitions and knowledges, is signified by "every living soul that creepeth shall live," and by "there shall be much fish," "the soul that creepeth" and "the fish" signifying the things that are in the natural man, which are called cognitions from the Word, also natural knowledges [scientiae] whereby spiritual things are confirmed, and "to live" signifying the influx of the Lord into these cognitions and knowledges through the spiritual man and his intelligence. (That "waters" signify the truths of doctrine from the Word, through which comes intelligence, see above, n. 71, 483, 518.)

(References: Revelation 11:1)


[9] In Habakkuk:

He stood and measured the earth; He saw and drove asunder the nations; for the mountains of eternity were scattered, the hills of the age did bow, His goings are of an age (Habakkuk 3:6).

This is said of visitation and the Last Judgment by the Lord when He should come into the world. "He stood and measured the earth" means exploring at that time of what quality the church is, "to measure" signifying to explore, and "the earth" the church; "He saw and drove asunder the nations" signifies the casting down into hell of all who are in evils and in falsities therefrom, "to drive asunder" signifying to cast into hell, and "nations" those who are in evils and in falsities therefrom; "the mountains of eternity were scattered" signifies that the celestial church, such as was with the most ancient people, who were in love to the Lord, had perished, "the mountains of eternity" signifying that church and that love; "the hills of the age did bow" signifies that the spiritual church perished, such as was with the ancient people after the flood, who were in love towards the neighbor, "the hills of the age" signifying that church and that love; "His goings are of an age" signifies according to the state of the church at that time, which was a perverted state.

[10] In Isaiah:

Behold the Lord Jehovih cometh in strength, and His arm shall rule for Him. Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and meted out the heavens with a span, and embraced the dust of the earth in a measure [trientali], and weighed the mountains in a scale, and the hills in a balance? (Isaiah 40:10, 12)

This, too, is said of the Lord and of Divine truth, from which are heaven and the church, and from which is wisdom. The Lord's coming, and the arrangement of all things in the heavens by Him from His own power at that time, is signified by "Behold the Lord Jehovih cometh in strength, and His arm shall rule for Him," "His arm that shall rule" signifying His own power. The arrangement of all things in the heavens by His own power by means of Divine truth, is signified by "Who hath measured the waters in the hollow of His hand, and meted out the heavens with a span, and embraced the dust of the earth in a measure and weighed the mountains in a scale, and the hills in a balance?" "To measure waters" signifies to define Divine truths; "to mete out the heavens with a span" signifies thence to arrange the heavens; "to embrace the dust of the earth in a measure" signifies to arrange lower things; "the hollow of the hand," "the span," and "the measure" have a similar signification as "measures" and also the "hand," namely, the quality of a thing and one's own power; "to weigh the mountains in a scale and the hills in a balance" signifies to subordinate and equilibrate all things, "scale and balance" signifying right equilibration, and "mountains and hills" the higher heavens, "mountains" meaning those heavens which are in love to the Lord, and "hills" those which are in charity towards the neighbor (as above).

[11] In Job:

Where wast thou when I founded the earth? Declare, if thou knowest understanding. Who determined the measures thereof? if thou knowest; and who stretched out the line upon it? upon what are its bases sunk? who laid the cornerstone thereof? (Job 38:4-6)

The "earth" here means the church; "to found it" and "to determine its measures" signify to establish it and to define its quality, "measure" meaning the quality of a thing; "to stretch out the line upon it" signifies to maintain it in its quality; "upon what are its bases sunk? and who laid the cornerstone thereof?" signifies to found it upon those things that are in the natural man, the "cornerstone" meaning the truth of the natural man, which is called true knowledge, upon which the truth of the spiritual man or spiritual truth is founded.

[12] In Jeremiah:

If these statutes shall depart from before Me, the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me all the days. If the heavens shall be measured upwards, and the foundations be searched out downwards, I also will reject all the seed of Israel because of all that they have done (Jeremiah 31:36, 37).

"Statutes" signify here all the things of the church that were commanded to the sons of Israel, thus all things of worship; if they do not keep these there will be no church among them, is what is signified by "If these statutes shall depart from before Me the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before Me all the days," "Israel" signifying the church, and "the seed of Israel" the truth of the church; and that although a new heaven and a New Church will come into existence, yet there will be nothing of heaven and the church with that nation, is signified by "If the heavens shall be measured upwards, and the foundations shall be searched out downwards, I also will reject all the seed of Israel because of all that they have done."

(References: Jeremiah 31:36-37)


[13] "To mete" and "to measure" signifies to define and determine what a thing is, also to explore it, because "measure" signifies what a thing is, or quality. That this is the signification of "measure" can be seen from the following passages. In Revelation:

The angel measured the wall of the city New Jerusalem, a hundred and forty-four cubits, which is the measure of a man, that is, of an angel (Revelation 21:17).

It is clearly evident that here "measure" signifies the quality of the thing that is meant by "the wall of the city New Jerusalem;" for what else could be meant by "the measure of the wall, a hundred and forty-four cubits, being the measure of a man, that is, of an angel"? In Matthew:

Judge not that ye be not condemned 2 for with what judgment ye judge ye shall be judged, and with what measure ye measure it shall be measured to you (Matthew 7:1, 2).

In Luke:

Judge not that ye be not judged; condemn not that ye be not condemned; remit and it shall be remitted to you; give and it shall be given to you, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, shall they give into your bosom; for with what measure ye measure they shall measure to you again (Luke 6:37, 38).

This may be seen explained in the work Heaven and Hell 349). And in Mark:

With what measure ye measure it shall be measured to you again; and to you that hear, more shall be added. Whosoever hath, to him shall be given; but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he hath (Mark 4:24, 25).

(References: Luke 6:37-38; Mark 4:24-25; Matthew 7:1-2)


[14] Thus charity towards the neighbor, or the spiritual affection of truth and good, is described, namely, that in the measure and after the manner that anyone is in such charity or in such affection in the world, so he comes into it after death. That we should not think evil of good and truth is meant by the words, "Judge not that ye be not judged, and condemn not that ye be not condemned;" to think evil of what is evil and false is permitted to everyone, but not of good and truth, for these in the spiritual sense are the neighbor. Because it is charity toward the neighbor that is meant it is added, "Remit and it shall be remitted to you, give and it shall be given unto you." That the spiritual affection, which is called charity, will continue after death according to its measure and quality, is meant by "With what measure ye measure it shall be measured to you again;" and that this measure and quality will be infilled to eternity is meant by "to you that hear a measure shall be added," also by "good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over, shall be given into your bosom," "measure" here meaning the measure and quality of affection or charity, which will be increased to eternity within or according to its degree in the world (see as above in the work Heaven and Hell 349).

That this will come to pass with those who practice charity is meant by "to you that hear more shall be added," "those that hear" signifying those who obey and do. That "to love the neighbor" is to love what is true and good, likewise what is sincere and just, may be seen in the New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine (n. 84-106). That no other thought or judgment is here meant than concerning the spiritual life of another can be seen from this, that it is permissible to everyone to think about the moral and civil life of another, and to judge of it; without such thought and judgment concerning others no civil society could subsist; therefore "not to judge and condemn" signifies not to think evil of the neighbor spiritually understood, that is, of his faith and love, which belong to man's spiritual life, for these lie concealed in his interiors, and therefore are unknown to anyone except the Lord alone.

[15] In John:

He whom the Father hath sent speaketh the words of God, for not by measure hath God given the spirit unto Him (John 3:24).

The "spirit" that God giveth signifies Divine truth, and intelligence and wisdom therefrom; "not by measure" signifies above every measure and quality of men, therefore infinitely, for the infinity that belongs to the Lord is without measure or quality, for measure and quality are properties of the finite, since measure and quality determine what is finite and set limits to it, but what is without limit is infinite. From this it follows that "measure" also here signifies quality, since "not by measure" signifies not predicating what a thing is, or its quality.

(References: John 3:34)


[16] In David:

Make known to me, Jehovah, my end, and the measure of my days what it is, that I may know how transitory I am; behold Thou hast given my days as handbreadths, and my time is as nothing before Thee (Psalms 39:4, 5).

It appears as if by these words times of life only are meant, the limit of which he wishes to know, and that these times pass away quickly; but in the spiritual sense times are not meant, but states of life instead; so "Make known to me, Jehovah, my end, the measure of my days what it is," signifies that he might know the state of his life and its quality, thus what kind of life he would continue in. "Behold Thou hast given my days as handbreadths" signifies that it is of very little consequence what the state of one's life is; "and my time is as nothing before Thee" signifies that the state of one's life is of no value; for "time and day" signify states of life in respect to truth and good, and thence in respect to intelligence and wisdom; so it is here meant that all these, so far as they are from oneself, are of no value. That there is such a meaning in these words cannot be seen by those who think only naturally, because natural thought cannot be separated from the idea of time. But spiritual thought, like that of angels, has nothing in common with time or space or with person.

(References: 2 Kings 12:21; Psalms 39:4-5)


[17] As "measures" signify the quality of a thing, it is clear what is signified:

By the house of measures (Jeremiah 22:14);

By the portion of measures (Jeremiah 13:25);

Also by men of measures (Isaiah 45:14);

where "measures" signify quality in the whole complex. In Moses:

Ye shall not act perversely in judgment, in measure, in weight, or in dimension; balances of justice, stones of justice, an ephah of justice, and a hin of justice, shall ye have (Leviticus 19:35, 36).

In the same:

Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers stones, great and small; thou shalt not have in thy house divers ephahs, great and small; a perfect and a just stone shalt thou have, a perfect and a just ephah shalt thou have (Deuteronomy 25:13-15).

And in Ezekiel:

Ye shall have balances of justice, and an ephah of justice, and a bath of justice (Ezekiel 45:10).

That these measures and these weights signify the estimation of a thing according to the quality of truth and good may be seen above n. 373.

Footnotes:

1Ezekiel 43:10, 11 has "arrangements." Schmidius has "descriptiones."

2. The Greek has "judged," as also found in True Christian Religion 226; The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem Regarding the Sacred Scripture 51.

(References: John 3:34; Leviticus 19:35-36)


  
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Thanks to the Swedenborg Foundation for their permission to use this translation.


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