Rich and Poor People in Heaven (Continued)

Poor people do not get into heaven because of their poverty but because of their lives. Our lives follow us whether we are rich or poor. There is no special mercy for the one any more than for the other. People who have lived well are accepted; people who have lived badly are rejected.

Poverty can actually seduce people and lead them away from heaven just as much as wealth can. There are many people among the poor who are not content with their lot, who covet much more, and who believe that wealth is a blessing; so when they do not get what they want, they are enraged and harbor evil thoughts about divine providence. They envy other people their assets, and given the chance would just as soon cheat them and live in their own foul pleasures.

It is different, though, for poor people who are content with their lot, are conscientious and careful in their work, prefer work to idleness, behave honestly and reliably, and lead Christian lives. I have sometimes talked with rural and common people who had believed in God while they lived in this world and had behaved honestly and righteously in their jobs. Because they were impelled by a desire to know what was true, they kept asking what thoughtfulness and faith were, since they had heard a lot about faith in this world and were hearing a lot about thoughtfulness in the other life.

So they were told that thoughtfulness is all about living and faith is all about doctrine. This means that thoughtfulness is intending and doing what is fair and right in every task, while faith is thinking what is fair and right; so faith and thoughtfulness go together like doctrine and a life according to it, or like thought and intent. Faith becomes thoughtfulness, then, when we intend and do the fair and right things that we think. When this happens, they are not two but one. They understood this perfectly well and were overjoyed, saying that in the world they had not understood believing to be any different from living.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 364

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