A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg/11 The Ten Commandments

 

THE TEN COMMANDMENTS.

 

There is not a nation in the whole world which does not know that it is evil to kill, to commit adultery, to steal, and to testify falsely; and that if these evils were not guarded against by laws, the kingdom, republic, or established order of society of whatever form would perish. Who then can conceive that the Israelitish nation was so senseless beyond others that it did not know that those things were evil? One may therefore wonder that these laws, universally known in the world, should be so miraculously promulgated from mount Sinai by Jehovah Himself. But listen: they were thus miraculously promulgated, that they might know these laws are not only civil and moral laws, but also Divine laws; and that to act contrary to them is not only to do evil against the neighbour, that is against the citizen and against society, but is also to sin against God. Therefore these laws, by their promulgation from mount Sinai by Jehovah, were made also laws of religion. It is evident that whatever Jehovah commands, He commands that it be a matter of religion, and thus that it be done for the sake of salvation. But before the commandments are explained something shall be premised concerning their holiness, that it may be manifest that religion is in them.

Because the commandments of the decalogue were the first-fruits of the Word,[1] and therefore the first-fruits of the church that was about to be established with the Israelitish nation, and because they were in a brief summary a complex of all things of religion, by which the conjunction is effected of God with man and of man with God, therefore they were so holy that there is nothing holier. That they are most holy is evidently manifest from the following facts: That the Lord Jehovah Himself descended upon Mount Sinai in fire and with angels, and therefrom promulgated them by the living voice, and that the mountain was hedged about lest any should draw near and die. That neither the priests nor the elders approached, but Moses only. That these commandments were written upon two tables of stone by the finger of God. That when Moses brought the tables down the second time his face shone. That the tables were afterwards deposited in the ark, and this in the inmost of the tabernacle, and over it was placed the propitiatory, and over this were placed the cherubim of gold; that this inmost of the tabernacle, where the ark was, was called the holy of holies. That without the veil within which was the ark, various things were arranged which represented the holy things of heaven and the church; which were the table overlaid with gold on which was the bread of faces; the golden altar on which incense was burned; and the golden candlestick with seven lamps; also the curtains round about, of fine linen, purple, and scarlet. The holiness of this whole tabernacle arose from nothing else than the law which was in the ark. On account of the holiness of the tabernacle from the law in the ark, all the people of Israel by command encamped around it, in order according to the tribes, and marched in order after it; and then a cloud was over it by day and a fire by night. On account of the holiness of that law, and the presence of Jehovah therein, Jehovah talked with Moses over the propitiatory between the cherubim, and the ark was called Jehovah There; but it was not lawful for Aaron to enter within the veil except with sacrifices and incense, lest he should die. On account of the presence of Jehovah in and about that law miracles also were wrought through the ark which contained the law. Thus the waters of the Jordan were divided, and so long as the ark rested in the middle of it the people passed over on dry ground; the walls of Jericho fell down by the ark being carried around them; Dagon the god of the Philistines fell on his face before it, and afterwards, severed from the head, lay with the two palms of the hands upon the threshold of the temple; the Bethshemites were smitten on account of it to the number of several thousands; and Uzzah died because he touched it. And the ark was introduced by David into Zion, with sacrifice and jubilation; and afterwards by Solomon into the temple at Jerusalem, where it became its sanctuary. Besides many other facts, from all which it is plain that the decalogue was holiness itself in the Israelitish church. (T. C. R. n. 282, 283.)

In the spiritual and celestial senses the decalogue contains universally all the precepts of doctrine and of life, thus all things of faith and charity. This is because the Word in the sense of the letter, in all and the least things of it, or in the whole and in every part, contains two interior senses; one which is called spiritual and another which is called celestial; and because in these senses Divine truth is in its light and Divine goodness in its heat. Now the Word being of such a nature in the whole and in every part, it is necessary that the ten commandments of the decalogue should be explained according to the three senses, called natural, spiritual, and celestial (T. C. R n. 289 )

The laws of spiritual life, the laws of civil life, and the laws of moral life also, are delivered in the ten precepts of the decalogue; in the first three the laws of spiritual life, in the following four the laws of civil life, and in the last three the laws oi moral life. (H. H. n. 531.)

 

The First Commandment.

"Thou shalt have no other God before my faces" These are the words of the first commandment (Exod. xx. 3; Deut. v. 7). In the natural sense, which is the sense of the letter, its most obvious meaning is that idols must not be worshipped; for it follows:—" Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness [of any thing] that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, and shalt not serve them; for I am Jehovah thy God, a jealous God" (ver. 4, 5). The reason why this commandment most obviously means that idols must not be worshipped was, that before that time, and after it down to the Lord's advent, there was idolatrous worship in much of the Asiatic world. . . . The Israelitish nation also was in such worship when in Egypt, as may appear from the golden calf which they worshipped in the wilderness instead of Jehovah; and it appears from many places in the Word, both historical and prophetical, that they were not afterwards alienated from that worship.

This commandment, "Thou shalt have no other God before my faces" also means in the natural sense that no man, dead or alive, shall be worshipped as God; which also was done in the Asiatic world, and in various neighbouring regions. Many gods of the Gentiles were no other than men; as Baal, Ashtaroth, Chemosh, Milcom, Beelzebub; and at Athens and Rome, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Pluto, Apollo, Pallas, etc. Some of these they at first worshipped as saints, afterwards as powers (numina), and finally as gods. That they also worshipped living men as gods is evident from the edict of Darius the Mede, that for thirty days no man should ask anything of God, but only of the king, or otherwise he should be cast into a den of lions (Dan. vi. 8 to the end).

In the natural sense, which is that of the letter, this commandment also means that no one but God, and nothing but that which proceeds from God, is to be loved above all things; which is also according to the Lord's words in Matt. xxii. 35-37, and Luke x. 25-28. For to him who loves any person or thing above all things that person or thing is God, and is Divine. For example, to him who loves himself or the world above all things himself or the world is his God. This is the reason why such do not in heart acknowledge any God. They are conjoined with their like in hell, where all are collected who love themselves and the world above all things.

The spiritual sense of this commandment is that no other God than the Lord Jesus Christ is to be worshipped; because He is Jehovah who came into the world and wrought the redemption without which no man nor any angel could have been saved.

The celestial sense of this commandment is that Jehovah the Lord is Infinite, Immense, and Eternal; that He is Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent; that He is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End; who Was, Is, and Will Be; that He is Love itself and Wisdom itself, or Good itself and Truth itself, consequently Life itself; thus the Only One, from whom all things are. (T. C. R. n. 291-295.)

 

The Second Commandment.

"Thou shalt not take the name of Jehovah thy God in vain; for Jehovah will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain." In the natural sense this means the name itself, and the abuse of it in various kinds of conversation; especially in speaking falsely or lying, and in oaths without cause, and for the purpose of exculpation in one's evil intentions (which are cursings), and in sorceries and enchantments. But to swear by God and His Holiness, the Word, and the Evangelists, in coronations, in inaugurations into the priesthood, and inductions into offices of trust, is not taking the name of God in vain, unless the swearer afterwards casts aside his solemn promises as vain. And the name of God, because it is Holiness itself, must continually be used in the holy things pertaining to the church; as in prayers, psalms, and in all worship; and also in preaching, and in writing on ecclesiastical subjects. For God is in all things pertaining to religion, and when rightly invoked by His name He is present and hears. In these things the name of God is hallowed. . . . The name Jesus is likewise holy, as is known from the saying of the Apostle, that at that name every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth; and moreover from the fact that no devil in hell can speak that name. The names of God are many, which must not be taken in vain; as Jehovah, Jehovah God, Jehovah of Hosts, the Holy One of Israel, Jesus, and Christ, and the Holy Spirit.

In the spiritual sense, the name of God means all that the church teaches from the Word, and through which the Lord is invoked and worshipped. All these things in the complex are the name of God. To take the name of God in vain means to take anything therefrom in frivolous conversation, in speaking falsely, in lying, imprecations, sorceries, and enchantments; for to do this also is to revile and blaspheme God, thus His name.

In the celestial sense, to take the name of God in vain means what the Lord said to the Pharisees, that "All sin and blasphemy shall he remitted unto man, but the blasphemy of the Spirit shall not he remitted" (Matt. xii. 31, 32). By blasphemy of the Spirit is meant blasphemy against the Divinity of the Lord's Humanity, and against the holiness of the Word. (T. C. R n. 297-299. See also p. 84.)

Since the name of God means that which is from God and which is God, and this is called Divine truth, and with us the Word, this because it is in itself Divine, and Most Holy is not to be profaned; and it is profaned when its Holiness is denied, as is done when it is contemned, rejected, and opprobriously treated. When this is done heaven is closed and man is left to hell; for the Word is the only medium of conjunction of heaven with the church, and therefore when from the heart it is rejected that conjunction is broken, and man being then left to hell no longer acknowledges any truth of the church. There are two things by which heaven is closed to the men of the church; one is the denial of the Lord's Divinity, and the other the denial of the Holiness of the Word. The reason is, that the Lord's Divinity is the all of heaven; and Divine truth, which is the Word in the spiritual sense, makes heaven. Hence it is evident that he who denies either the one or the other denies that which is the all of heaven, and from which heaven is and exists; and that he thereby deprives himself of all communication, and hence of conjunction, with heaven. To profane the Word is the same as the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, which is not remitted to any one; and therefore it is said in this commandment also, that he shall not be left unpunished who profanes the name of God. (A. E. n. 960.)

Because by the name of God Divine truth or the Word is meant, and the profanation of it means the denial of its sanctity, and therefore contempt, rejection, and blasphemy, it follows that the name of God is inwardly profaned by a life against the commandments of the decalogue. For there is profanation which is inward and not outward; and there is profanation that is inward and at the same time outward; and there may also be something of outward profanation and not at the same time inward. Inward profanation is caused by the life; outward, by the speech. Inward profanation which is by life is outward also, or by speech, after death; for then every one thinks and purposes, and as far as he is permitted speaks and acts, according to his life, thus not as in the world. In the world man is accustomed to speak and act otherwise than as he thinks and purposes, on account of the world, and to acquire fame. For this reason it is said there is inward profanation and not at the same time outward. That there may also be something of outward profanation and not at the same time inward, is in consequence of the style of the Word; which is not at all a style of the world, and may therefore be somewhat contemned from ignorance of its inward sanctity.

Whoever abstains from profaning the name of God, that is from profaning the sanctity of the Word, by contempt, rejection, or any kind of blasphemy, has religion; and his religion is according to the quality of his abstention. For no one can have religion except from revelation, and revelation with us is the Word. The abstention from profaning the sanctity of the Word must be from the heart, and not from the lips only. They that abstain from the heart live from religion; but they that abstain only with the lips do not live from religion, for they abstain either for the sake of self, or for the sake of the world,—because the Word serves them as a means of acquiring honour and gain,—or they abstain from some motive of fear. But many of these are hypocrites, who have no religion, (ib. n. 962, 963.)

 

The Third Commandment.

"Remember the Sabbath-day, to keep it holy; six days thou shalt labour and do all thy work; but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Jehovah thy God." In the natural sense, which is that of the letter, this means that the six days are for man and his labours, and the seventh for the Lord and for man's rest from Him. The word Sabbath in the original tongue signifies Rest. The Sabbath among the children of Israel was the sanctity of sanctities, because it represented the Lord; the six days represented His labours and conflicts with the hells; and the seventh, his victory over them, and therefore rest; and it was holiness itself, because that day was representative of the close of the Lord's whole work of redemption. But when the Lord came into the world, and the representations of Him therefore ceased, that day became a day of instruction in Divine things; and thus too a day of rest from labours, and of meditation on such things as relate to salvation and eternal life; as also a day of love towards the neighbour.

By this commandment, in the spiritual sense, the reformation and regeneration of man by the Lord is signified; the six days of labour signify his warfare against the flesh and its concupiscences, and at the same time against the evils and falsities that are in him from hell; and the seventh day signifies his conjunction with the Lord, and regeneration thereby. Man's reformation and regeneration are signified by this commandment, in the spiritual sense, because they coincide with the Lord's labours and conflicts with the hells, and with His victory over them, and the rest after victory; for the Lord reforms and regenerates man, and renders him spiritual, in the same manner that He glorified His Human and made it Divine.

In the celestial sense conjunction with the Lord is meant by this commandment, and then peace, because protection from hell; for rest is signified by the Sabbath, and in this highest sense, peace. (T. C. R. n. 301-303.)

The third and fourth commandments of the decalogue contain the things which are to be done: they enjoin that the Sabbath is to be kept holy, and that parents are to be honoured. The rest of the commandments contain what are not to be done; namely, that other gods are not to be worshipped, that the name of God is not to be profaned, that man is not to steal, nor to kill, nor to commit adulteries, nor to bear false witness, nor to covet the goods of others. The reason why these two commandments are to be done is that the keeping of the rest of the commandments depends upon them; for the Sabbath signifies the union of the very Divine and the Divine Human in the Lord, likewise His conjunction with heaven and the church, and therefore the marriage of good and truth with the man who is regenerated. Because the Sabbath signifies these things it was the chief representative of all things pertaining to worship in the Israelitish church; as is evident in Jer. xvii. 20-27, and elsewhere. The reason of its being the principal representative of all things pertaining to worship was, that the first of all things of worship is the acknowledgment of the Divine in the Lord's Human; for without that acknowledgment man cannot believe and act except from himself; and to believe from himself is to believe falsities, and to act from himself is to do evils, as is evident from the words of the Lord Himself in John: "Then said they unto Him, What shall we do that we might work the works of God? Jesus said, This is the work of God, that ye helieve on Him whom God hath sent" (vi. 28, 29); and again: "He that abideth in Me, and I in Him, the same bringeth forth much fruit, for without Me ye can do nothing" (xv. 3). (A. E. n. 965.)

 

The Fourth Commandment.

"Honour thy father and thy mother, that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may be well with thee upon the earth." To honour thy father and thy mother in the natural sense, which is the sense of the letter, means, to honour parents, to obey them, to be attentive to them, and to show gratitude to them for the benefits they confer; which are, that they feed and clothe their children, and introduce them into the world, that they may act in it the part of civil and moral beings, and also into heaven by the precepts of religion, and thus consult their temporal prosperity, and also their eternal felicity; and all these things they do from the love in which they are from the Lord, in whose stead they act. In an adapted sense, if the parents are dead, the honour of guardians by their wards is meant. In a wider sense, to honour the king and the magistracy is meant by this commandment; since they exercise the care over things necessary to all in common which parents do in particular. In the widest sense this commandment means that men should love their country, because it sustains them and protects them; it is therefore called father-land (patria), from father (pater). But to their country and to the king and magistracy the honours must be paid by parents, and be implanted by them in their children.

In the spiritual sense, to honour father and mother means to adore and love God and the church. In this sense by father God is meant, who is the Father of all; and by mother, the church. Infants in the heavens and angels know no other father and no other mother, since they are there born anew of the Lord by the church. The Lord therefore says, "Call no man your father on the earth; for one is your Father, who is in the heavens" (Matt, xxiii. 9). These words were spoken for children and angels in heaven, but not for children and men on earth. The Lord teaches the same in the common prayer of the Christian churches: "Our Father, who art in the heavens, hallowed be Thy name." That the church is meant by mother, in the spiritual sense, is because just as a mother on earth feeds her children with natural food the church feeds them with spiritual food; and for this reason the church is frequently called mother in the Word; as in Hosea: "Plead with your mother . . . .; she is not my wife, neither am I her husband" (ii. 2, 5); in Isaiah: "Where is the hill of your mother's divorcement, whom I have put away?" (I. 1; and Ezek. xvi. 45; xix. 10). And in the Evangelists: "Jesus, stretching out His hand to the disciples, said, My mother and My brethren are those who hear the Word of God and do it" (Matt. xii. 48, 49; Luke viii. 21; Mark iii. 33-35; John xix. 25-27.

In the celestial sense, our Lord Jesus Christ is meant by father; and by mother the communion of saints, by which His church is meant, scattered over the whole world. (T. C. R, n 305-307.)

 

The Fifth Commandment.

"Thou shalt not kill." This commandment not to kill, in the natural sense means not to kill man, and not to inflict upon him any wound of which he may die, and also not to mutilate his body; and it means, moreover, not to bring any deadly evil upon his name and fame, since with many fame and life go hand in hand. In a wider natural sense murder means enmity, hatred, and revenge, which breathe the spirit of murder; for murder lies concealed within them, as fire in wood beneath the ashes. Infernal fire is nothing else; hence one is said to be inflamed with hatred, and to burn with revenge. These are murders in intention and not in act; and if the fear of the law and of retaliation and revenge were taken away from them, they would burst forth into act; especially if there be treachery or ferocity in the intention. That hatred is murder is evident from these words of the Lord: "Ye have heard, that it was said hy them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill, shall be in danger of the judgment. But I say unto you, that whosoever is rashly angry with his brother, shall be in danger of hell-fire" (Matt. v. 21, 22). This is because all that is of the intention is also of the will, and thus in itself is of the act.

In the spiritual sense murder means all modes of killing and destroying the souls of men, which are various and manifold; as turning them away from God, religion, and Divine worship, by throwing out scandals against them, and by persuading to such things as excite aversion and also abhorrence.

In the celestial sense, to kill means to be rashly angry with the Lord, to hate Him, and wish to blot out His name. It is those who do this of whom it is said that they crucify Him; which they would even do, as did the Jews, if as before He were to come into the world. This is meant by "the Lamb standing as it had been slain" in Rev. v. 6, xiii. 8; and by "the crucified" in Rev. xi. 8; Heb. vi. 6; Gal. iii. 1. (T. C. R. n. 309-311.)

Since all who are in hell are in hatred against the Lord, and therefore in hatred against heaven,—for they are against goods and truths,—therefore hell is the very murderer, or the state whence murder itself proceeds. The reason is that man is man from the Lord, by virtue of the reception of good and truth, and therefore, to destroy good and truth is to destroy the very human, and thus to kill man. That those who are in hell are of such a character was not yet so well known in the world; for the reason that there does not then appear any hatred against good and truth, nor against heaven, and still less against the Lord, with those who are of hell and therefore come into hell after death. For every one while he lives in the world is in externals, which from infancy are taught and accustomed to feign such things as are honest and decorous, and just and equitable, and good and true; and yet hatred lies concealed in their spirit, and this in proportion to the evil of their life; and as hatred is in the spirit, therefore it breaks forth when the externals are put off, as is the case after death. This infernal hatred against all who are in good is deadly hatred, because it is hatred against the Lord. This is especially evident from their delight in doing evil, which is such as to exceed in degree every other delight; for it is a fire burning with the lust of destroying souls. It has in fact been proved that this delight is not from hatred against those whom they attempt to destroy, but from hatred against the Lord Himself. Now since man is man from the Lord, and the human which is from the Lord is good and truth; and since those who are in hell, from hatred against the Lord lust to kill the human, which is good and truth; it follows that it is hell from whence murder itself proceeds. (A. E. n. 1013.)

When a man abstains from hatred, and holds it in aversion and shuns it as diabolical, then charity, mercy, and clemency flow in through heaven from the Lord; and then first are the works that he does works of love and charity. The works that he did before, however good they might appear in the external form, were all works of the love of self and of the world, in which there lay concealed hatred if they were not rewarded. So long as hatred is not removed so long man is merely natural, and a merely natural man remains in all his hereditary evil; nor can he become spiritual until hatred, with its root, which is the love of ruling over all, is removed; for the fire of heaven, which is spiritual love, cannot flow in so long as the fire of hell, which is hatred, opposes and precludes it. (ib. n. 1017.)

 

The Sixth Commandment.

"Thou shalt not commit adultery." In the natural sense this commandment not only forbids to commit adultery, but also to purpose and to do obscene acts, and therefore to think and speak of lascivious things. That merely to lust is to commit adultery is known from these words of the Lord: "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say unto you, that whosoever looketh on the woman of another to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart (Matt. v. 27, 28).

In the spiritual sense, to commit adultery means to adulterate the goods of the Word, and to falsify its truths. (T. C. R n. 313, 314.)

Scarcely any one at this present day knows that these things are signified in the spiritual sense by committing adultery and whoredom, because at this day few within the church know what the spiritual is, and in what respect it differs from the natural; and scarcely any one knows that there is a correspondence of each with the other,—and in truth of such a nature that the image of the one is presented in the other, that is the spiritual is represented in the natural; consequently that the spiritual is as the soul and the natural as its body, and that thus by influx and by conjunction thence they constitute one,—just as in the regenerate man his internal man, which also is called spiritual, and his external, which also is called natural, make one. Since such things are unknown at this day it cannot therefore be known what to commit adultery signifies further, than that it is to be illegitimately conjoined as to the body. Because these things, as was said, are at this day unknown, it is permitted to declare the reason why in the spiritual sense to commit adultery signifies to pervert those things which are of the doctrine of faith and charity, and so to adulterate goods and falsify truths. The reason (which at this day is an arcanum) is, that conjugial love descends from the marriage of good and truth, which is called the heavenly marriage; the love that exists between good and truth in heaven, which flows in from the Lord, is turned into conjugial love on earth, and this by correspondence. Hence it is that in the internal sense the falsification of truth is fornication, and the perversion of good is adulteration. Hence also it is that they who are not in the good and truth of faith cannot be in genuine conjugial love; and that they who find the delight of their life in adulteries can no longer receive anything of faith. I have heard it said by the angels that as soon as any one commits adultery on earth, and takes delight in it, heaven is closed to him; that is he refuses any longer to receive thence anything of faith and charity. The reason why adulteries are made light of by very many at this day in the kingdoms where the church exists is because the church is at its end, so that there is no longer any faith, because there is no charity. For the one corresponds to the other; where there is no faith falsity is in the place of truth, and evil in the place of good; and it flows therefrom that adulteiies are no more reputed as crimes; for when heaven is closed in man such things flow in from hell. That in the internal or spiritual sense to commit whoredom and adultery is to falsify and pervert the truths and goods of faith and charity, consequently also to confirm what is false and evil by perverse applications of the Word, may appear from the several passages in the Word where the commission of adultery, whoredom, and fornication is mentioned. This will be very plain from the following in Ezekiel: "Son of man, make Jerusalem to know her abominations. . . . Thou didst play the harlot because of thy renown, and didst pour out thy fornication on every one that passed by. Thou didst take of thy garments and didst make to thyself variegated high places, and didst play the harlot upon them. Thou hast also taken the implements of thine adorning, of My gold and of My silver, which I had given thee, and didst make to thyself images of a male, and didst commit fornication with them. . . . Thou hast taken thy sons and thy daughters whom thou hast home unto Me, and hast sacrificed them. Is this, concerning thy fornications, a small thing? . . . Thou hast committed fornication with the sons of Egypt thy neighbours, great of flesh and hast multiplied thy fornications, to provoke Me to anger. . . . And thou didst commit whoredom with the sons of Ashur, when thou wast not satiated with whom thou didst also commit whoredom, and yet wast not satisfied. And thou didst multiply thy fornication . . . even to Chaldea, the land of merchandise; and yet in this thou wast not satisfied. . . . An adulterous woman, under her husband, hath received strangers. They give a gift to all whores; but thou givest thy gifts to all thy lovers, and dost remunerate them, that they may come to thee from every side to thy fornications. . . . Wherefore, O harlot, hear the word of Jehovah, . . . I will judge thee with the judgments of adulterous [women] and of them that shed blood" (xvi. 1, 15-17, 20, 26, 28, 29, 32, 33, 35, 38). Who does not see that falsifications of truth and adulterations of good are meant here by fornications? And who can understand a single word here unless he knows that fornication has such a signification, and also knows what is meant by the sons of Egypt, the sons of Ashur, and Chaldea, with whom Jerusalem is said to have committed fornication? That she did not commit fornication with those people themselves is evident. (A. C. n. 8904.)

Because Babylon[2] adulterates and falsifies the Word beyond others she is called the great Whore, and these words are spoken of her in the Revelation: "Babylon hath made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication" (xiv. 8). The angel said, "I will show thee the judgment of the great Whore . . . with whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication" (xvii. 1, 2). "He hath judged the great Whore, which did corrupt the earth with her fornication" (xix. 2). Because the Jewish nation had falsified the Word, it was called by the Lord, "an adulterous generation" (Matt. xii. 39; xvi. 4; Mark viii. 38), and "the seed of the adulterer" (Isa. lvii. 3). Besides which there are many other places where by adulteries and whoredoms adulterations and falsifications of the Word are meant.

In the celestial sense, to commit adultery means to deny the holiness of the Word, and to profane it. That this is meant in this sense follows from the former, the spiritual sense, which is to adulterate its goods and to falsify its truths. They deny and profane the holiness of the Word who in heart laugh at everything of the church and of religion; for all things of the church and of religion in the Christian world are from the Word. (T. C. R. n. 314, 315.)

Who at this day can suppose that the love of adultery is the fundamental love of all diabolical and infernal loves? and that the chaste love of marriage is the fundamental love of all heavenly and Divine loves? and consequently that in proportion as a man is in the love of adultery in the same proportion he is in every evil love, if not in act yet in disposition? and on the other hand that in proportion as a man is in the chaste love of marriage in the same proportion he is in every good love, if not in act yet in disposition? Who at this day can think that he who is in the love of adultery does not believe anything of the Word, nor therefore anything of the church? nay, that in his heart he denies God? and on the other hand, that he who is in the chaste love of marriage is in charity, and in faith, and in love to God? and that the chastity of marriage makes one with religion, and the lasciviousness of adultery makes one with naturalism? The reason that these things are unknown at this day is because the church is at its end, and is devastated as to truth and as to good; and when the church is in such a condition the man of the church, by influx from hell, comes into the persuasion that adulteries are not detestable, nor abominations. And therefore he also comes into the belief that marriages and adulteries do not differ in their essence, but only in respect to order; when yet the difference between them is such as that between heaven and hell. That there is this difference between them will be seen in what follows. Hence now it is that in the Word, in the spiritual sense, heaven and the church are meant by nuptials and marriages; and that hell and the rejection of all things of heaven and the church are meant by adulteries and fornications. (A. E. n. 981.)

That adultery is hell, and therefore an abomination, any one may conceive from the idea of a commixture of diverse semen in the womb of one woman; for it is the semen of man in which lies hidden the inmost of his life, and therefore the rudiment of a new life; and on this account it is holy. To make this common with others' inmosts and rudiments, as is done in adulteries, is profane. Hence it is that adultery is hell; and hell in general is called adultery. Because nothing but corruption can come of such commixture—also from a spiritual origin—it follows that adultery is an abomination. Accordingly in the brothels that are in hell foulnesses of every kind appear; and when light from heaven is admitted into them, adulteresses with adulterers are seen like swine, lying in very filth, and what is marvellous, like swine they are in their delight when in the midst of filth. But these brothels are kept closed, because when they are opened a stench is exhaled from them which excites vomiting. In chaste marriages it is different. In these the life of the man adds itself by the semen to the life of the wife; whence springs the intimate conjunction by which they become not two but one flesh; and according to the conjunction thereby conjugial love increases, and with this every good of heaven, (ib. n. 1005.)

 

The Future State of Adulterers.

Because adulteries are contrary to conjugial love it is impossible for adulterers to be with the angels in heaven; and because also they are in the opposites to good and truth. And so it is impossible that they should be in the heavenly marriage; for the reason, too, that they have none but impure ideas of marriage. When marriage is but named or the idea of it occurs, there instantly enter into their ideas lascivious, obscene, yea, abominable things. So when the angels converse respecting good and truth adulterers think contrary to them; for with man after death all affections, and the thoughts from them, continue such as they were in the world. Adulterers are in the disposition to destroy societies; thus in heart they are opposed to charity and mercy, laughing at the miseries of others; they desire to deprive every one of his own, and do it as far as they dare; and it is a pleasure to them to destroy friendships and stir up enmities. Their religion is, that they say they acknowledge a Creator of the universe, and a Providence,—but only universal, and salvation by faith, and that worse cannot be done to them than to others. But when they are explored as to what they are at heart,—which is done in the other life,—they do not in fact believe these things; but think of universal nature as Creator of the universe, instead of a universal Providence believe in none, and think nothing of faith. All these things because adulteries are entirely opposed to good and truth. How then adulterers can come into heaven any one may judge. (A. C. n. 2747.)

From the goods enumerated and described which come of chaste marriages, it may be concluded what the evils are which follow from adulteries; for these evils are the opposites of those goods. That is, instead of the spiritual and celestial loves which are in those who live in chaste marriages, there are infernal and diabolical loves with those who are in adulteries; in place of the intelligence and wisdom which they possess who live chastely in marriages, there are insanities and follies with those who are in adulteries; in place of the innocence and peace which they enjoy who live in chaste marriages, there are guile and no peace with those who are in adulteries; in place of the power and the protection against the hells which they possess who live chastely in marriages, asmodean and infernal demons themselves are with those who live in adulteries; and in place of the beauty of those who live chastely in marriages, there is deformity with those who live in adulteries,—which is monstrous according to the quality of their adulteries. The final lot of adulterers is that from extreme impotence to which they at length reduce themselves, they become void of all the fire and light of life, and dwell by themselves in wildernesses, as inert, and weary of their very life. (A. E. n. 1003.)

I have been informed by the angels that when any one commits adultery on earth heaven is instantly closed to him, and that afterwards he lives only in worldly and corporeal things. And that then though he hears about matters of love and faith they do not penetrate to his interiors; and what he himself says about them does not come from his interiors, but only from his memory and his mouth under the impulse of conceit or the love of gain. For the interiors are closed, and cannot be opened but by earnest repentance. (A. C. n. 2750.)

He who abstains from adulteries for any other reason than because they are sins, and against God, is still an adulterer. For example, if one abstains from them for fear of the civil law and its punishment; for fear of the loss of reputation, and thence of honour; for fear of the diseases arising from them; for fear of upbraidings from his wife at home, and thence of intranquillity of life; for fear of chastisements from the servants of the injured husband; on account of poverty, or of avarice; on account of any infirmity arising from abuse, or from age, or from impotence, or from disease. Nay, if he abstain from them on account of any natural or moral law, and does not at the same time abstain from them on account of the Divine law, he is yet inwardly unchaste and an adulterer; for he none the less believes that they are not sins, and in his spirit declares them lawful, and so commits them in spirit though not in the body. Therefore after death when he becomes a spirit, he openly speaks in favour of them, and commits them without shame. It has been given me to see virgins in the spiritual world who accounted fornication as abominable because against the Divine law; and also virgins who did not account them abominable, but yet abstained from them because they were disreputable and would turn away their suitors. These virgins I saw encompassed with a dusky cloud in their descent to the abodes below; and the former I saw surrounded with a bright light in their ascent to the abodes above. (A. E. n. 1009.)

All who regard adulteries as of no consequence, that is who believe that they are not sins, and from this confirmed belief, and purposely, commit them, are evil doers and impious in heart; for the conjugial human [principle] and religion go together at every pace; and every step and every advance by religion and in religion, is also a step and advance by and in the conjugial [principle] which is peculiar and proper to a Christian man. (C. L. n. 80.)

 

The Seventh Commandment.

"Thou shalt not steal." In the natural sense this commandment means according to the letter, not to steal, rob, or commit piracy in time of peace; and in general not to take from any one his goods, secretly, or under any pretext. It also extends itself to all impostures, illegitimate gains, usuries, and exactions; and also to fraudulent practices in paying duties and taxes, and in discharging debts. Workmen offend against this commandment who do their work unfaithfully and dishonestly; merchants who deceive in merchandise, in weight, in measure, and in accounts; officers who deprive the soldiers of their just wages; and judges who give judgment for friendship, bribes, relationship, or for other reasons by perverting the laws or the judicial investigations, and who thus deprive others of their goods which they should rightfully possess.

In the spiritual sense to steal means to deprive others of the truths of their faith, which is done by falsities and heresies. Priests who minister only for the sake of gain or worldly honour, and teach such things as they see or may see from the Word are not true, are spiritual thieves; since they take away from the people the means of salvation, which are the truths of faith.

In the celestial sense by thieves are meant those who take away Divine power from the Lord; and also those who claim for themselves His merit and righteousness. These, though they adore God, yet do not trust in Him, but themselves; and they also do not believe in God, but in themselves. (T. C. R n 317-319.)

He who abstains from thefts understood in the wide sense, nay, who even shuns them, for any other reason than on account of his religion and for eternal life, is not purified from them; for no other motive opens heaven. For the Lord removes the evils in man by means of heaven, as by heaven he removes the hells, For example, administrators of goods, higher and lower, merchants, judges, officers of every kind, and labourers; if they abstain from thefts, that is from unlawful gains and usuries, and even shun them, for the acquisition of a good name, and thereby of honour and gain, or on account of civil and moral laws,—in a word from any natural love or any natural fear, thus on account of outward restraints alone and not from religion, their interiors are yet full of thefts and robbery. And when outward restraints are taken away from them, as is the case with every one after death, they break forth. The apparent sincerity and rectitude of such is only a mask, pretence, and cunning.

Now in proportion as the different kinds and species of thefts are removed, and the more they are removed, the different kinds and species of good to which they oppositely correspond, and which in general relate to what is sincere, right, and just, enter in and occupy their place. For when a man is averse to and shuns unlawful gains acquired by fraud and cunning, in so far he purposes what is sincere, right, and just; and at length begins to love what is sincere because it is sincere, what is right because it is right, and what is just because it is just. He begins to love them because they are from the Lord and the love of the Lord is in them. For to love the Lord is not merely to love His person, but to love those things that come from the Lord; for these are the Lord with man. Thus it is also to love sincerity itself, right itself, justice itself; and as these are the Lord, therefore in the degree that a man loves them, and so acts from them, in that degree he acts from the Lord. And in that degree the Lord removes insincerity and injustice as to the very intentions and purposes wherein their roots are; and every time with less resistance and conflict, thus with easier labour, than in the beginnings. Thus a man thinks from conscience, and acts from integrity; not the man indeed of himself, but as if from himself; for he then acknowledges, from faith as well as from perception, that it appears indeed as if he thought and did these things from himself, when yet they are not from himself but from the Lord. (A. E. n. 972, 973.)

Take for example administrators of the goods of others, higher and lower: If they deprive their king, their country, or their master of his goods, clandestinely or by artifice, or under fair pretence by fraud, they have no religion and no conscience; for they hold in contempt and render null the Divine law concerning theft. Though they frequent temples, are devout in listening to sermons, attend the Sacrament of the Supper, pray morning and evening, and talk piously from the Word, yet nothing flows in and is present from heaven in their worship, piety, and speech, because their interior minds are full of thefts, robberies, knavishness, and injustice; and so long as these are within, the way into them from heaven is closed. Therefore the works that they do are all evil. But on the other hand administrators of goods who shun unlawful gains and fraudulent transactions, because they are contrary to the Divine law of theft, have religion, and consequently conscience also. And the works that they do are good works; they act from sincerity for the sake of sincerity, and from justice for the sake of justice. And moreover they are content with their own, and are of cheerful mind and joyful heart as often as it occurs that they have not defrauded.

Take merchants also for example: Their works are all evil so long as they do not regard as sins, and for that reason shun, all unlawful gains and illicit usuries, and frauds and craft; for such works cannot be done from the Lord, but are from man himself. And their works are worse by so much as from the internal they know how, more skilfully and subtlely, to fabricate deceptions and circumvent their companions; and their works are yet worse the more skill they have in bringing such things into effect under the guise of sincerity, justice, and piety. The more delight a merchant takes in such things, the more the origin of his works is derived from hell. And if he acts sincerely and justly in order to acquire reputation, and by reputation wealth,—even so far as to appear to act from the love of sincerity and justice,—and does not act sincerely and justly from affection or from obedience to the Divine law, he is yet inwardly insincere and unjust, and his works are thefts; for under the guise of sincerity and justice he is disposed to steal. That this is so is made manifest after death, when man acts from his interior will and love, and not from the exterior. He then thinks and contrives nothing but crafty tricks and robberies; and he withdraws himself from the sincere, and betakes himself either to forests or to deserts, where he devotes himself to his insidious wiles. In a word, they become robbers. But it is otherwise with those merchants who shun all kinds of theft as sins, especially the interior and more hidden thefts which are accomplished by acts of cunning and deceit. Their works are all good, because they are from the Lord; for the influx from heaven, that is through heaven from the Lord, for effecting them is not intercepted by the evils above mentioned. Riches do no harm to them, because wealth is to them the means of use. Mercantile transactions with them are uses whereby they serve their country and their fellow-citizens; and they are also placed by their wealth in a position to perform any uses to which the affection of good leads them.

From what has been said it may now be seen what is meant in the Word by good works; namely, all the works that are done by man while evils are being removed as sins. For the works that are afterwards done are not done by the man otherwise than as by him; they are in truth done by the Lord; and works that are done by the Lord are all good, and are called goods of life, goods of charity, and good works. For example, all the judgments of a judge who has justice for his end and venerates and loves this as Divine, while he detests adjudications for the sake of reward, for friendship, or from favour, as flagitious; for so he consults the good of his country, by causing justice and judgment to reign therein as in heaven, and so he consults the peace of every harmless citizen, and protects him from the violence of evil-doers; all which are good works. The offices of administrators also and the dealings of merchants are all good works when they shun illicit gains as sins against the Divine laws. While man is shunning evils as sins he daily learns what a good work is, and the affection of doing good increases with him, and the affection of knowing truths for the sake of good; for the more truths he knows the more fully and wisely he can act, and therefore the more truly good his works become. Cease therefore to inquire in thyself what are the good works that I may do, or what good shall I do that I may receive eternal life. Only abstain from evils as sins, and look to the Lord, and the Lord will teach and lead thee. (A. E. n. 977-979.)

 

The Eighth Commandment.

"Thou shall not bear false witness against thy neighbour." To bear false witness against the neighbour, or testify falsely, in the natural sense most obviously means to act the part of a false witness before a judge, or before others out of a court of justice, against any one who is inconsiderately accused of any evil, and to asseverate this by the name of God or anything holy, or by himself and such things of himself as are of some repute. In a wider natural sense this commandment forbids lies of every kind, and artful hypocrisies which regard an evil end; and also to traduce and defame the neighbour, so that his honour, name, and fame, on which the character of the whole man depends, are injured. In the widest natural sense it forbids plots, deceits, and premeditated evils against any one, from various motives, as from enmity, hatred, revenge, envy, rivalry, etc.; for these evils conceal within them the testifying to what is false.

In the spiritual sense, to bear false witness means to persuade that falsity is truth in a matter of faith, and that evil is good in a matter of life, and the reverse; but it is to do these of purpose, and not from ignorance, that is, to do them after one knows what is true and good, and not before.

In the celestial sense, to bear false witness means to blaspheme the Lord and the Word, and so to banish the very truth from the church; for the Lord is the Truth itself, and also the Word. On the other hand, in this sense to witness means to utter truth: and testimony means the truth itself. Hence the Decalogue is also called the Testimony. (T. C. R n. 321-328.)

In the inmost sense this commandment forbids to falsify the truth and good of the Word; and on the other hand to establish falsity of doctrine as true by confirming it by fallacies, appearances, fictions, knowledges falsely applied, and sophistries, and the like. The very confirmations and the persuasions from them are false witness, for they are false testimonies. (A. E. n. 1019.)

 

The Ninth and Tenth Commandments.

"Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's house; thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbour's." These two commandments look to the commandments which precede, and teach and enjoin that as evils must not be done, they also must not be lusted after; consequently that they are not of the external man only, but of the internal also; for he who does not commit evils, and yet lusts to commit them, even does commit them. For the Lord says, "Whosoever lusteth after the wife of another hath already committed, adultery with her in his heart" (Matt. v. 28); and the external man does not become internal, or act as one with the internal, until lusts are put away. This also the Lord teaches, saying, "Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, . . . for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup and platter, that the outside of them may be clean also" (Matt, xxiii. 25, 26). And moreover, in that whole chapter the internals which are Pharisaical are lusts after those things which are commanded not to be done in the first, second, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth commandments. . . . That these two commandments might look to all those which precede, that [the evils prohibited] should not be lusted after, therefore the house is first named, afterwards the wife, and then the man-servant, the maid-servant, the ox and the ass, and lastly, all that is the neighbour's. For the house involves all things that follow; for it contains the husband, the wife, the man-servant, the maid-servant, the ox, and the ass. The wife, who is afterwards named, involves again the things which follow; for she is the mistress, as the husband is the master, in the house; the man-servant and maid-servant are under them, and the oxen and asses under them; and lastly come all things that are below or without, in that it is said, "anything that is thy neighbour's." From which it is plain that these two commandments have reference to all the preceding in general and in particular, in a wide and in a restricted sense.

In the spiritual sense these commandments prohibit all lusts which are contrary to the spirit, thus which are contrary to the spiritual things of the church, which relate chiefly to faith and charity; for unless lusts are subdued, the flesh with its liberty would rush into all wickedness. For it is known from Paul, that "The flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh" (Gal. v. 17). In short, these two commandments, understood in the spiritual sense, regard all things that have before been presented in the spiritual sense, and forbid to lust after them; and likewise all that have before been presented in the celestial sense. But to repeat them is unnecessary. (T. C. R. n. 326, 327.)

The ten commandments of the decalogue contain all things which are of love to God, and all that are of love to the neighbour.

In eight precepts, the first, second, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth, there is nothing said of love to God and of love towards the neighbour; for it is not said that God should be loved, nor that the name of God should be hallowed, nor that the neighbour should be loved, nor therefore that he should be dealt with sincerely and uprightly; but only that Thou shalt have no other God before My face; Thou shalt not take the name of God in vain; Thou shalt not kill; Thou shalt not commit adultery; Thou shalt not steal; Thou shalt not bare false witness; Thou shalt not covet the things that are thy neighbour's. That is, in general, that evil ought not to be purposed, meditated, or done, either against God or against the neighbour. But the reason why such things as relate directly to love and charity are not commanded, but that it is only commanded that such things as are opposed to them should not be done, is that in so far as a man shuns evils as sins in so far he purposes the goods which are of love and charity. The first thing of love to the Lord and love towards the neighbour is to do no evil; and the second is to do good.

It was said that in so far as a man shuns evils he desires to do good; the reason is that evils and goods are opposites, for evils are from hell and goods from heaven. So far therefore as hell, that is evil, is removed heaven draws near and the man looks to good. That it is so is very manifest from the above eight commandments of the decalogue thus viewed. Thus, I. In so far as any one does not worship other gods, in so far he worships the true God. II. In so far as any one does not take the name of God in vain, in so far he loves the things which are from God. III. In so far as any one is not willing to kill, and to act from hatred and revenge, in so far he wishes well to the neighbour. IV. In so far as any one is not willing to commit adultery, in so far he desires to live chastely with a wife. V. In so far as any one is not willing to steal, in so far he practises sincerity. VI. In so far as any one is not willing to bear false witness, in so far he is willing to think and speak the truth. VII. and VIII. In so far as any one does not covet the things that are the neighbour's, in so far he is willing that the neighbour should enjoy his own. Hence it is evident that the commandments of the decalogue contain all things which are of love to God, and of love towards the neighbour. Therefore Paul says, "He that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is comprehended in this saying, Thou shalt love thy neighhour as thyself. Charity worketh no evil to the neighbour; therefore charity is the fulfilment of the law" (Rom. xiii. 8-10). (T. C. R n. 329, 330.)

Offending in One Commandment Offending in All.

It is affirmed that no one can fulfil the law, and the less because he who offends against one commandment of the decalogue offends against all. But this form of speech is not just as it sounds. For it is to be understood in this manner; that he who of purpose or determination acts contrary to one commandment, acts contrary to the rest; since to act from purpose and determination is entirely to deny that it is a sin, and if he is told that it is sin, to reject the admonition as of no moment. He who thus denies, and makes a sin a matter of no concern, makes light of everything that is called sin. (T. C. R. a 523.)

  1. See Note, p. 257.
  2. See note, p. 172.