V. What Religion Consists In (Continued)

Most nations possess a knowledge of these commandments, and make them the commandments of their religion, and live according to them because God so wills and has commanded; and through this they have communication with heaven and conjunction with God, consequently they are saved. But most in the Christian world at this day do not make them the commandments of their religion, but only of their civil and moral life; and they do this that they may not appear in external form to act fraudulently and make unlawful gains, commit adulteries, manifestly pursue others from deadly hatred and revenge, and bear false witness, and do not refrain from these things because they are sins and against God, but because they have fears for their life, their reputation, their office, their business, their possessions, their honor and gain, and their pleasure; consequently if they were not restrained by these bonds they would do these things. Because, therefore, such form for themselves no communication with heaven or conjunction with the Lord, but only with the world and with self, they cannot be saved.

Consider is respect to yourself, when these external bonds have been taken away, as is done with every man after death, if there are no internal bonds, which are from fear and love of God, thus from religion, to restrain and hold you back, whether you would not rush like a devil into thefts, adulteries, murders, false witnesses, and lusts of every kind, from a love of these and a delight in them. That this is the case I have both seen and heard.

So far as evils are set aside as sins so far goods flow in, and so far does man afterward do goods, not from self, but from the Lord.

As, first, so far as one does not worship other gods, and thus does not love self and the world above all things, so far acknowledgment of God flows in from the Lord, and then he worships God, not from self but from the Lord.

Secondly, so far as one does not profane the name of God, that is, so far as he shuns the lusts arising from the loves of self and of the world, so far he loves the holy things of the Word and of the church; for these are the name of God, and are profaned by the lusts arising from the loves of self and of the world.

Thirdly, so far as one shuns thefts, and thus shuns frauds and unlawful gains, so far sincerity and justice enter, and he loves what is sincere and just from sincerity and justice, and thus does what is sincere and just not from self but from the Lord.

Fourthly, so far as one shuns adulteries and thus shuns unchaste and filthy thoughts, so far marriage love enters, which is the inmost love of heaven, and in which chastity itself has its seat.

Fifthly, so far as one shuns murders, and thus shuns deadly hatreds and revenges that breathe murder, so far the Lord enters with mercy and love.

Sixthly, so far as one shuns false testimonies, and thus shuns lies and blasphemies, so far truth from the Lord enters.

Seventhly, so far as one shuns a covetousness for the house of others, and thus shuns the love and consequent lusts for possessing the goods of others, so far charity toward the neighbor enters from the Lord.

Eighthly, so far as one shuns a covetousness for the wives of others, their servants, etc., and thus shuns the love and consequent lusts of ruling over others (for the things enumerated in this commandment are what belong to man), so far love to the Lord enters.

These eight commandments include the evils that must be shunned, but the two others, namely, the third and fourth, include certain things that must be done, namely, that the Sabbath must be kept holy, and that parents must be honored. But how these two commandments should be understood, not by men of the Jewish church but by men of the Christian church, will be told elsewhere.

from Spiritual Life and the Word of God, Part First

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