V. What Religion Consists In

Religion with man consists in a life according to the Divine commandments, which are contained in a summary in the Decalogue. He that does not live according to these can have no religion, since he does not fear God, still less does he love God; nor does he fear man, still less does he love him. Can one who steals, commits adultery, kills, bears false witness fear God or man? Nevertheless everyone is able to live according to these commandments; and he who is wise does so live as a civil man, as a moral man, and as a natural man.

And yet he who does not live according to them as a spiritual man cannot be saved; since to live according to them as a spiritual man means to live so for the sake of the Divine that is in them, while to live according to them as a civil man means for the sake of justice and to escape punishments in the world; and to live according to them as a moral man means for the sake of honesty, and to escape the loss of reputation and honor; while to live according to them as a natural man means for the sake of what is human, and to escape the repute of having an unsound mind.

All laws, civil, moral, and natural, prescribe that one must not steal, must not commit adultery, must not kill, must not bear false witness; and yet a man is saved not by shunning these evils from these laws alone, but by shunning them also from spiritual law, thus shunning them as sins. For with such a man there is religion, and a belief that there is a God, a heaven and a hell, and a life after death; with such a man there is a civil life, a moral life, and a natural life; a civil life because there is justice, a moral life because there is honesty, and a natural life because there is manhood.

But he who does not live according to these commandments as a spiritual man is neither a civil man, nor a moral man, nor a natural man; for he is destitute of justice, of honesty, and even of manhood, since the Divine is not in these. For there can be nothing good in and from itself, but only from God; so there can be nothing just, nothing truly honest or truly human in itself and from itself, but only from God, and only when the Divine is in it. Consider whether anyone who has hell in him, or who is a devil, can do what is just from justice or for the sake of justice; in like manner what is honest, or what is truly human.

The truly human is what is from order and according to order, and what is from sound reason; and God is order, and sound reason is from God. In a word, he who does not shun evils as sins is not a man. Everyone who makes these commandments to belong to his religion becomes a citizen and an inhabitant of heaven; but he who does not make them to belong to his religion, although in externals he may live according to them from natural, moral, and civil law, becomes a citizen and an inhabitant of the world, but not of heaven.

from Spiritual Life and the Word of God, Part First

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