Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/305

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

ing 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-