In His Name

A Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

Toronto, January 25, 2009

Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them. (MAT 18:20)

We read in many places in the Word that the Lord taught that there are four steps to eternal life:  To obey the Ten Commandments; To turn away from the allurements of material wealth; To do good to others; And to do all of these things in His name. Our purpose is to examine more closely what it means to do things in His name. Our text for today is a part of the Gospel of Matthew that covers the period after the Lord showed Himself as the Divine Human to Peter, James, and John, and just before His entry into Jerusalem as a King.

This part of the Word contains many of His most powerful and clear lessons about heaven and the moral life on earth that leads to heaven. This text predicts the early period of the Christian church when it was just a few people who gathered in small groups to listen to the disciples teach what they had learned from the Lord. It also speaks of the New Church because in the whole world there are relatively only a handful of people who know of the existence of the Heavenly Doctrines.

The ancient Greek civilization gave us the concept of democracy, which introduced a sense of justice into civil government, and has provided a sphere of intellectual freedom where the church has been able to grow. At the same time it has led to false notion that the majority is always right. The fact that a lot of people may hold a false idea does not make it true. The truth is the truth, and it is not changed by the number of people who know it. When a person holds a religious view different from all the people he associates with, it can make him begin to wonder if he is wrong, for how could all those people be wrong? The error must somehow be his.

We also know that it makes us feel much better to be with people who share our views, as it is a common experience that there is strength in numbers. The more people who hold a view similar to our own, the more we feel that our beliefs are valid, correct, and the right way to live. We might imagine, if Noah were an actual historical figure, how different he would have felt from his neighbours as he prepared for the flood.

The Christian Church, which many of us have secretly envied for its size, numbers, and wealth, is today becoming fragmented as the division begun with the Reformation continues to break the church into ever smaller denominations. On the other hand, we see a number of very strong, growing religions in the East. When compared with Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam in its various forms, and the several other Asian religions, Christianity in general appears to represent a small fraction that is actually growing smaller.

Obviously, since all people are created for heaven, the Lord must have provided a great many ways for them to get to heaven. As Westerners, our attention has primarily been focused on our method, but upon a moment’s reflection, we soon realize that there must be many other ways to heaven that are suited to the many other kinds of people in world.

If we imagine a whole world full of different people, each with their own different kind of religion suited to their particular way of thinking and suited to preparing that kind of person for heaven, you will have a picture of what the Heavenly Doctrines of the New Church call the “church universal.” A great many people in every nation of the world belong to the church universal. In fact, all people who try to do the best they can to follow the commandments of their religion, to turn away from the loves of self and the world, to care for others, and to do all of these for the sake of their God, however they may understand Him, will find their way to heaven. They will find their eternal home there because they love to do heavenly things.

In the work Heaven and Hell, Swedenborg reports, I have sometimes talked with those belonging to … common people, who, while living in the world, believed in God and did what was just and right in their occupations. Since they had an affection for knowing truth, they inquired about charity and about faith, having heard in this world much about faith and in the other life much about charity. They were therefore told that charity … is willing and doing what is just and right in every work, and faith is thinking justly and rightly; and faith and charity are conjoined, …the same as thought and will; and faith becomes charity when that which a man thinks justly and rightly he also will and does, and then they are not two but one. This they well understood (HH 364, emphasis added).

But if the church universal is a “general” church, it needs to get its life and doctrine from somewhere, it must have a vessel for reception, and it must have a means or medium by which life may flow into it through the heavens from the Lord. The means for this to happen is the Lord’s specific church on earth, that church where the Lord Jesus Christ, the one God of Heaven and Earth in His Divine Human is known through the Word and worshipped.

So we can see that in one sense, our text means exactly what it seems to say, that the Lord makes Himself especially present with people when they gather together in His name, no matter who they are, where they are, or by what tradition they worship. And yet there is more. Our text also tells us what it is like for those who learn to love to live a life of charity and faith and who thus become angelic even while in this world.

Everything in the Word is significant, especially numbers. Complex numbers get their signification from the simple numbers of which they are composed. The simple numbers are two, three, five, and seven. “Three” signifies what is full and complete, and also has to do with truths, while “two” and “four” have to do with good. The reason for this is that “two” brings to mind the idea of the marriage or conjunction of two things, and spiritual conjunction is love itself (See AE 532). One who knows the spiritual sense of the Word can know also why it is said … ’where there are two or three,’ namely, because ‘two’ is predicated of good, and ‘three’ of truth, consequently ‘two and three’ of all who are in truths from good (AE 411). So in the spiritual sense, “two or three” does not mean two or three individuals, but rather any person or group that is in truth from good.

Let us reflect for a moment on what that means. The doctrines are talking about a person who is in a state of truth from good. That means that they have already been in a state of good, and the only way to enter a state of good is by living according to the truth from the Lord in the Word, that is, obeying the commandments. So what it means when it talks about a person who is in truth from good is that the person has first learned the truth from the Word, then compelled himself to live according to it because he believed that the Lord wanted him to do so. When a person has entered into such a state of the good of life, the Lord can flow into his mind and open up a new understanding of the commandments, revealing their moral and spiritual levels.

A person who obeys the commandments in the Lord’s name is given enlightenment into the truths of faith, that is, he is given to see the commandments as part of the larger picture. That new understanding is “truth from good.” And because the truth is given by the Lord because of the prior state of good, it is also called the “wisdom of intelligence”, that is, the wisdom that comes from putting knowledge and skill to use for the benefit of others. This is truth from good, the wisdom that comes from doing the Lord’s will. Our text is then speaking of an angelic state, making the promise that if we are good and faithful, that if we do the best we can, because we believe that to do so is what the Lord Himself wants us to do, to do good for His sake and not our own, we too can have the Lord in our “midst,” which is to say, have Him eternally present.

With some people there is the belief that the mere mention of the Lord’s name, without any knowledge of the Word, somehow, magically, brings salvation (See AE 102), but the Heavenly Doctrines tell us that this is not so, that doing things in the name of the Lord means not only His name, but also requires the acknowledgment of Him as the Redeemer and Saviour, and at the same time obedience to Him, and at length the genuine faith in Him that can result only from a life of charity (See TCR 682) We read in the Arcana Coelestia that the “name of Jehovah” signifies all the truths in one complex by which God is worshipped, thus all the good of love and truth of faith; and “in the midst of him,” as being what is in Him, thus also what is from Him; for the good of love is of such a nature that what is in it, is also from it in others, because it has the power of communicating itself.   For it is a characteristic of love that it wishes everything of its own to be out of itself in others; and as this is effected from the Divine Itself through and out of its Divine Human, therefore also the Lord as to the Divine Human is called “the name of Jehovah.” (AC 9310)

So in conclusion, we can see that when considered only from the strict sense of the letter, our text does indeed mean that the Lord is present with those who gather in His name, even when there are just a very few. We certainly should not seek to have small groups by excluding others, but on the other hand we should not let the issue of numbers by itself be discouraging. After all, the Lord has many ways to lead people to heaven, each way especially suited to a particular set of needs. However, when viewed from the knowledge of the internal sense, we can see that there is a deeper, richer meaning that applies to each one of us in our daily lives.

The phrase, “Two or three gathered together,” is speaking about a person who has come into state of wisdom from a life according to the Lord’s commandments in the Word. “In My name” tells us that this person is in a state of genuine worship towards the Lord from a knowledge and acknowledgment of the truth of His Divine Humanity and he conscientiously lives the kind of life that follows such knowledge. “There I am in the midst of them” tells us that with such people there will be eternal, reciprocal conjunction with the Lord.

Our text then develops, explains, and reinforces the Lord’s promise that those who obey His commandments; turn away from the loves of self and the world; and love the neighbour as themselves out of love and regard for the Lord Jesus Christ, will live to eternity in Heaven with Him. AMEN.

First Lesson:  Genesis 7:1-16

Then the LORD said to Noah, “Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation. {2} “You shall take with you seven each of every clean animal, a male and his female; two each of animals that are unclean, a male and his female; {3} “also seven each of birds of the air, male and female, to keep the species alive on the face of all the earth. {4} “For after seven more days I will cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and I will destroy from the face of the earth all living things that I have made.” {5} And Noah did according to all that the LORD commanded him. {6} Noah was six hundred years old when the floodwaters were on the earth. {7} So Noah, with his sons, his wife, and his sons’ wives, went into the ark because of the waters of the flood. {8} Of clean animals, of animals that are unclean, of birds, and of everything that creeps on the earth, {9} two by two they went into the ark to Noah, male and female, as God had commanded Noah. {10} And it came to pass after seven days that the waters of the flood were on the earth. {11} In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, the seventeenth day of the month, on that day all the fountains of the great deep were broken up, and the windows of heaven were opened. {12} And the rain was on the earth forty days and forty nights. {13} On the very same day Noah and Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and Noah’s wife and the three wives of his sons with them, entered the ark; {14} they and every beast after its kind, all cattle after their kind, every creeping thing that creeps on the earth after its kind, and every bird after its kind, every bird of every sort. {15} And they went into the ark to Noah, two by two, of all flesh in which is the breath of life. {16} So those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the LORD shut him in. Amen.

Second Lesson:  Matthew 18:10-20

“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. {11} “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. {12} “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? {13} “And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. {14} “Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish. {15} “Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. {16} “But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that ‘by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.’ {17} “And if he refuses to hear them, tell it to the church. But if he refuses even to hear the church, let him be to you like a heathen and a tax collector. {18} “Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. {19} “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. {20} “For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Amen.

Third Lesson:  AE 815:12

[12] “To believe in His name” has a similar signification as “to believe in Him,” since the Lord’s “name” signifies every quality of faith and love by which He is to be worshipped, and by which He saves man. This is signified by “His name,” because in the spiritual world names that are given to persons are always in accord with the quality of their affection and life, and in consequence the quality of each one is known from his name alone. So when anyone’s name is pronounced, and the quality that is meant by the name is loved, that one becomes present, and the two are united as companions and brethren. The quality of the Lord however is everything of faith and love by which He saves man, for that quality is the essence proceeding from Him; therefore when that quality is thought of by man the Lord becomes present with him, and when this quality is loved the Lord is conjoined to him. Thence it is that those who believe in His name have eternal life. This shows how necessary it is that man should know the quality of faith and love, that is, the Lord’s “name;” also how necessary it is to love that quality, which comes by doing those things that the Lord has commanded. The names “Jesus” and “Christ” moreover involve this same quality, since “Jesus” means salvation, and “Christ” or “Messiah” Divine truth, which is everything of faith and love as to knowledges, doctrine, and life. When, therefore, these names are mentioned their quality must be thought of and they must live according to it. This is what is meant by the words of the Lord in Matthew:

     Jesus said, If two of you on earth shall agree in My name respecting anything that they shall ask it shall be done for them by My Father who is in the heavens. For where two or three are gathered together in My name there am I in the midst of them (18:19, 20).

There is, indeed, a presence of the Lord with all and also a love towards all; and yet man cannot be led and be saved by the Lord except in the measure of his reception of the Lord by faith in Him and love to Him. Amen.

Babylon and Nebuchadnezzar

A Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

Mitchellville, November 7, 2004

Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the king of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to abase (Daniel 4:37).

God promised Abraham that if he and his descendants would follow God and obey Him, then they would be as the stars in the heavens, or as the grains of sand on the beach, and that they would have dominion over all the land of Canaan. If they would only be obedient, they could be His chosen people.

They were, however, unable to follow God. The Old Testament lists the children of Israel’s numerous failures to obey, their punishments at the hand of their enemies, and their cries to the Lord for help. From the long view of history, we can see that the general trend was a steady descent from the close relationship that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob had with Jehovah to the dispersion and loss of the 10 tribes of Israel, and the Babylonian captivity of Judah.

Our purpose today is to trace this descent of the human spirit from its beginnings to its end in order to see what it is that destroys a man’s spiritual life, and then, by studying what happened to Nebuchadnezzar, to see how we can rise up from our lowly states, and receive the King of Heaven into our lives.

There is a central concept that we need to have very clearly in mind before proceeding, and that is the representation of “Babylon” or “Babel.” First, as far as the internal sense is concerned, there is no difference between the words “Babel” and “Babylon.” “Babel” is simply the Latin, and “Babylon” the Greek form for the same Hebrew word. So, throughout the Word, wherever they occur, they stand for the same idea. The idea that Babylon represents is the love of dominating others from the love of self.

This evil is a constant threat to every church. We know that it was this evil love that destroyed the Ancient Church, for in Genesis it is told how men built the tower of Babel to reach unto heaven itself. They sought dominion over other men’s lives, then over their thought, and finally it mounted up so far that it became the love of dominating the holy things of heaven (See AR717).

The church becomes Babylon when charity and faith cease, and in their place the love of self reigns. This is why the Lord permitted King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon to capture the people of Judah and take them to Babylon, for it represented the final state of the Jewish church as to its internals before the Lord came into the world to bring it to its end and establish a new church in its place.

For today, we shall focus particularly on three events which occurred during the Jewish captivity in Babylon. In these three events, we can see both the destruction of a church from the love of self, and the ascent out of the love of self through successive states of self-examination, repentance, and reformation.

The first event is Nebuchadrezzar’s dream as recorded in Daniel. Nebuchadnezzar dreamed and saw huge statue. Its head was of fine gold, the chest and arms of silver, the belly and thighs of bronze, the legs of iron, and the feet partly of iron and partly of clay. And while he watched, a stone was cut out of a rock without hands which struck the image in the feet, and destroyed it.

Nebuchadrezzar’s dream describes four churches: The golden head was the Most Ancient Church which ended with the flood. The silver chest and arms stands for the Ancient Church in Asia and Africa which perished by idolatries. The belly and thighs of bronze stand for the Israelitish church which perished by the profanation of the Word, signified by their crucifixion of Him who was the Word. The legs and feet of iron and clay are the Christian Church which was ended at the council of Nicea and consummated when the Lord made His second coming in the Heavenly Doctrine (See P.P., TCR 760, AC 1551).

But perhaps most important is the stone which destroyed the statue, for it signifies that when a church is in its last state, when heavenly love has been replaced by the love of self, and when the Word is used to confirm falsity and evil, it is no longer really a living church and is no longer able to see the truth in the Word. This happened to the Jewish Church and is happening with many people today, with those who cannot see that there is anything internal in the Word, and who would not receive it even if they could see it (See AC 9406).

The second event is the story of Daniel’s three friends who refused to worship the golden idol set up by Nebuchadnezzar, and who were thrown into the fiery furnace, and were protected by the Son of God.

Nebuchadnezzar stands for those in a church who love and worship themselves, not God. Such people want anyone who does not agree with them to burn in hell. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego represent those who wish to remain true to the Lord. When Nebuchadnezzar tries to kill them, they are protected by the Lord, and Nebuchadnezzar is forced to acknowledge His power (See P.P.).

The third event was Nebuchadrezzar’s second dream. He saw a tree of such height that it reached the heavens, but an angel came down from heaven and cut it down, leaving only the stump and roots bound by a strap of iron. Nebuchadnezzar saw himself grazing like an animal, until an angel proclaimed that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men.

The great tree is another representative of the desire to dominate by means of the things of religion. When the angel cut it down, it meant that such evil would be cut down in its season, it would not be allowed to prosper.

The stump bound with iron means that the Word, which is the foundation of every true church, would yet remain with them.

That Nebuchadnezzar would graze like an animal shows that such men are so stupid in respect to the truths and goods of the church as to no longer appear as men, for when seen from heaven they appear to be no more than beasts.

Finally, we are told that after Daniel interpreted this dream for Nebuchadnezzar, the king did in fact go insane for a time, and was not permitted to return to his kingdom until his pride had been broken.

Three times Nebuchadnezzar defied God, and three times he was humbled. It is our thesis that Nebuchadnezzar stands for that love in every man which wants to rule over others, and is willing to use the holy things of the Word to accomplish this evil end. In each example already mentioned, we have seen that Nebuchadnezzar has suffered successively harsher and harsher punishments. This is a descending series, showing how in the course of our lives, as we journey down the path of regeneration, we fight deeper and deeper evils. Ironically, the better we get, the more we regenerate, the deeper evils we are able to find within ourselves because we are better equipped to look deeper!

If this was all that we saw, it would be rather discouraging, so it is absolutely essential that we also see that there is an ascending series as well. Each time Nebuchadnezzar fights God and looses, he issues a proclamation stating his discoveries about God. If we look at these decrees, we shall see that even as a man descends into the depths of temptation and despair, he opens up for himself the opportunity of a deeper and more complete appreciation and understanding of God.

The love of self reigns universally in hell – it is the first love in the heart of every devil. It begins innocently enough as an instinct for self-preservation, but if left unchecked can eventually turn a man’s life into hell itself. We all know that purpose of life in this world is to learn truth and live it, so that the Lord can give us a new angelic will. But those who are in the love of self do not get a new will in the enlightened understanding, but instead get a “Voluntary” of evil loves below the will, a new hellish will suitable for a life in hell (See AC 9296:3)!

We are not talking about childish selfishness and pettiness here. The evil of the love of self represented by Babylon and its king is a fully developed adult evil. It begins as selfishness, a “me-first” attitude where others are simply ignored in regard to one’s own needs and desires. It then develops into a pride in one’s own accomplishments accompanied with a derision of the works of others. As the love of self grows, it turns into contempt for others who are less clever than self, and finally a hatred for anyone or anything that would dare to contradict the desires and needs of self. Eventually other humans fall so far below contempt that they are not even noticed, and the love of self focuses all its hatred on the Lord, the only One who remains to challenge the supremacy of self. In this way the love of self grows until it becomes the hatred of the Lord, and the burning passion to pull Him down and replace Him with self.

The love of self is not just an inconvenience, a character flaw. It is the heart and life of hell itself! And if we are to enter into the life of heaven, this must be removed from us first. But how?

Purification from the loves of self and the world are only effected by means of the truths of faith (See AC 9088:2). Any evil must be seen before it can be shunned, and only the truth from the Lord in the Word gives us the light to see our evils. So, Nebuchadnezzar, who as king of Babylon represents the evil of the love of dominion from the love of self was given the dream of the statue, and after Daniel reveals and explains the dream, Nebuchadnezzar says, “Truly your God is the God of gods, the Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, since you could reveal this secret” (Dan. 2:47). The first step has taken place. Nebuchadnezzar has had a message from God, he has had the secret revealed to him by the prophet.

The Lord speaks to each of us, too, if we will only listen. He speaks to us, warns us, leads us away from our follies through the letter of the Word. As Nebuchadnezzar did not seek Jehovah until he had a disturbing dream, it is also true that many people go for many years without feeling any particular need or hunger to search the Word for answers. It is as if God diminishes in importance until He is just one of many things in our lives – until some disturbing event happens that we cannot otherwise explain away. We then as it were rediscover the Word, and rediscover God. Suddenly, He is no longer just one of many ideas and philosophies competing for our attention, but He moves once again to the fore. He becomes “God of gods.”

After Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego miraculously survive being thrown into the fiery furnace, Nebuchadnezzar says, “Therefore I make a decree that any people, nation, or language which speaks anything amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made an ash heap; because there is no other God who can deliver like this” (Dan. 3:29).

As we begin to live the truth we have rediscovered, we also discover that our lives begin to change, that we feel better about ourselves, that we feel better about others. As we repent of our evil ways, we finally begin to get the idea that the Lord has real power to change our lives, that when we do things His way, they go easier, and things are generally more pleasant. We realize that no philosophy of man can provide genuine happiness in life, that only the Lord’s Word can really change our lives for the better. We see that “no other God can deliver (or save) like this” (Dan. 3:29).

But no evil can be removed from a man except by means of temptation even to despair, for only when our pride is broken, when we are truly humbled before God, will we finally realize that of ourselves we are nothing, and that He is everything and all power. This is the confession of the angels, and from it comes all eternal happiness. In proportion as it is acknowledged that nothing of good and truth is from self, the love of self departs (See AC 10227:2). In the world of spirits, those who are being prepared for heaven are let down into their true nature so that they can see and feel what they are in and of themselves without the Lord’s uplifting power, and they are horrified. So too with Nebuchadnezzar. He was the most powerful king on earth, and yet he was humbled so that he ate grass like the cattle, dug for roots with his fingernails, and his hair became matted and filthy. And finally, after he recovers his sanity as a totally humbled and convinced man, he said, “I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, and His kingdom is from generation to generation. …I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the king of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways are justice and those who walk in pride He is able to abase” (text).

From himself, man thinks and wills evil and rushes into hell (See AC 1321). The love of self reigns when man does all things for the sake of himself and his own family (See AC 7367). The only way out of the loves of self and the world are by shunning evils, for only when a man admits God into his life and asks for His help can be begin to leave his own little hell. Only God can uplift a man out of hell, and even He can only do this when He is invited to. And that is the point. The Lord wills that everyone become an angel of heaven. He is constantly providing opportunities for each of us to turn towards Him and ask for His help. If we are willing to search the Word for truth, to shun evils as sins, we, like Nebuchadnezzar, will find that the Lord is “God of gods,” that He can save us, and that His “works are truth, and His ways are justice, and those who walk in pride He is able to abase” (text). AMEN.

First Lesson: DAN 4:28-37

(Dan 4:28-37) All this came upon King Nebuchadnezzar. {29} At the end of the twelve months he was walking about the royal palace of Babylon. {30} The king spoke, saying, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?” {31} While the word was still in the king’s mouth, a voice fell from heaven: “King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kingdom has departed from you! {32} And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass over you, until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses.” {33} That very hour the word was fulfilled concerning Nebuchadnezzar; he was driven from men and ate grass like oxen; his body was wet with the dew of heaven till his hair had grown like eagles’ feathers and his nails like birds’ claws. {34} And at the end of the time I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to heaven, and my understanding returned to me; and I blessed the Most High and praised and honored Him who lives forever: For His dominion is an everlasting dominion, And His kingdom is from generation to generation. {35} All the inhabitants of the earth are reputed as nothing; He does according to His will in the army of heaven And among the inhabitants of the earth. No one can restrain His hand Or say to Him, “What have You done?” {36} At the same time my reason returned to me, and for the glory of my kingdom, my honor and splendor returned to me. My counselors and nobles resorted to me, I was restored to my kingdom, and excellent majesty was added to me. {37} Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down. Amen.

Second Lesson: AC 7367 – 7372

7367. The love of self reigns with a man, that is, be is in the love of self, when in what he thinks and does, he does not regard his neighbor, thus not the public, still less the Lord, but only himself and those who belong to him; consequently when he does all things for the sake of himself and those who belong to him; and if for the sake of the public and his neighbor, it is merely for the sake of the appearance.

7368. It is said “for the sake of himself and those who belong to him,” because he together with these, and these together with him, make a one; just as when any one does anything for the sake of his wife, of his children, grandchildren, sons-in-law, or daughters-in-law, he does it for the sake of himself, because they are his. In like manner one who does anything for the sake of relatives and of friends who favor his love and thereby conjoin themselves with him; for by such conjunction they make one with hi, n, that is, regard themselves in him, and him in themselves.

7369. In so far as a man is in the love of self, so far he removes himself from the love of the neighbor; consequently in so far as a man is in the love of self, so far he removes himself from heaven, for in heaven there is the love of the neighbor. From this it also follows that in so far as man is in the love of self, so far he is in hell, for in hell there is the love of self.

7370. That man is in the love of self who despises his neighbor in comparison with himself, who regards him as his enemy f he does not favor and reverence him; he is still more in the love of self who therefore hates and persecutes his neighbor; and he still more who therefore burns with revenge against him and desires his destruction. Such persons at last love to rage against their neighbor; and the same, if they are also adulterers, become cruel.

7371. The delight which these men perceive in such things is the delight of the love of self. This delight in a man is infernal delight. Everything that is according to love is delightful; and therefore the quality of the love can be known from the delight.

7372 From what has now been described (n. 7370), as a test, it is known who are in the love of self. It matters not how they appear in the outward form, whether pretentious or unassuming; for such they are in the interior man; and the interior man is at this day hidden by most people, and the exterior is trained to make a show of love of the public and the neighbor, thus for contrary things; and this also for the sake of self and for the sake of the world. Amen.

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