Making Righteous Judgements


A Sermon by the Rev. James P. Cooper

Toronto, May 31, 2009

Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgement. (JOH 7:24)

The sixth and seventh chapters of the gospel of John tell of a time of great crisis in the Lord’s ministry. While teaching and performing miracles in Galilee, His disciples began to argue amongst themselves, and with Him, about some of the concepts He was teaching. Many of those who had initially been attracted to the Lord through His teachings and particularly through His miracles found that as the first states of discovery faded, they became dissatisfied, and even angry with the new teachings, with the result that many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more. (JOH 6:66)

Although He still had the full support of the Twelve (see JOH 6:67-69), the crisis was not resolved. He was limiting His teaching to the regions around His home in Nazareth in Galilee, in part because the Jews sought to kill Him (JOH 7:1) in Judea. Even so, His own brothers, the sons of Mary and Joseph, challenged Him to prove Himself by going into Judea, in the hope that they would force the issue and either prove once and for all that He was the Messiah, or to see that He was, after all, just another Jewish zealot.

Jesus told His brothers that He would not come with them to the Feast of Tabernacles because His time was not yet at hand. They went ahead to the Feast while He remained in Galilee, but once they were on their way, He too went to the feast, and about the middle of the feast, began teaching in the temple. As the crowds began to gather to hear Him, He asked them outright why they were seeking to kill Him. They answered, You have a demon. (JOH 7:20)

He then responded by saying, I did one work, and you all marvel. (JOH 7:21) referring to the fact that He had healed a man on the Sabbath. His critics had perceived this as breaking the Jewish law against working on the Sabbath, but Jesus reasoned with them saying that since circumcision had to be done on the eighth day after birth, it was permitted on the Sabbath. He was trying to explain that it was not the act itself that mattered, but the intention behind it. Circumcision was permitted because it was a symbol of spiritual washing and healing. The Lord then asked them if that was any different in intention from healing the sick on the Sabbath. The Lord was being judged unfairly, His response was to teach us about judgements themselves, and how to make them properly. He said, Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgement. (JOH 7:23, 24)

One of the problems we face in trying to understand the Lord’s doctrine of judgement as taught in the New Testament is that there seem to be so many contradictory teachings. Our purpose today is to try sort them all out into one consistent doctrine.

The doctrine of judgement falls into three main areas: How the Lord Judges us, how we are to judge others, and how we are to pass judgement upon ourselves.

In thinking about how the Lord judges us, we have to understand what we mean by “judgement.” If by “judgement” we really mean “condemning to hell,” then the Lord says, I judge no man (JOH 8:15), for the first and most essential truth of this doctrine is that the Lord sends no one to hell. Rather, His entire effort is to fight against hell and to draw all men up to Himself insofar as it is possible. (See TCR 652) The doctrine of the New Church teaches that God’s anger is only the appearance of His love flaming, and that in fact, the only purpose of creation was that everyone could freely choose to enter heaven and live there to eternity with Him. Therefore, it would be impossible for God to send anyone to hell. Those who go to hell do so because they love evil more than good, and freely choose to be with others of their own kind. The evil judge themselves to hell by their free choices to turn away from the Lord and from good during their life in this world.

But there needs to be some kind of judgement, as human beings are curious mixtures of good and evil, truth and falsity. Many philanthropists have done great and charitable things for mankind and become very famous for their generosity while yet thinking entirely of their own glory. Many a humble servant has served faithfully and well and without anyone noticing at all because of his love and concern for the welfare of others. Most of the rest of us fall somewhere in between, being a mixture of good intentions and deeply hidden evils. There has to be some kind of judgement to sort it all out.

When we speak of this kind of judgement, we are not speaking of just “condemning to hell” as above but rather we are speaking of

the salvation of those who have faith, and the condemnation of those who do not. (AC 2320)

It is in this context that it is said in the Scriptures that:

  • If I do judge, My judgement is true. (JOH 8:16)
  • For the Father judges no one, but has committed all judgement to the Son. (JOH 5:22)
  • For … the Father … has given Him authority to execute judgement also, because He is the Son of Man. (JOH 5:26, 27)

At this point it is important to remember that “the Father” represents the Divine Good, while references to the “Son” or the “Son of Man” represent the Divine Truth. This is why the doctrines tells us that

there is judgement from good and judgement from truth. People who have faith are judged from good, but those who do not have it are judged from truth. (AC 2335:2)

When people die, their spirit enters the World of Spirits, leaving the physical body behind in the natural world, and with the body is left all the deeds of the body. Every spirit starts over with a clean record. Gradually, once the spirit has adjusted to the fact of spiritual life, the inhibitions that have active throughout life in the world are removed. The spirit no longer cares what others may think, or fears punishment by the law, but does exactly what he wants to do when he wants to do it.

Those who have consciously and deliberately tried to do what is right for the Lord’s sake, continue to do what is good. While they may require some correction and amendment of false ideas, these, after a struggle known as a vastation, are accepted willingly and with delight. It’s like having a class of eager, bright students who are genuinely interested in learning the subject and putting it to use in their lives. They move ahead quickly and suffer correction easily because they see the good that will come of it. This is what is called the judgement of Good, because they are led and judged by their love of the Lord and the Neighbour.

On the other hand are those who, throughout their life in the world, have confirmed themselves in evil. Because evil is not acceptable in human society, they have carefully and deeply hidden their evils within themselves under a veil of hypocrisy. They have made every effort to make their evil appear to be good, or if that is impossible, to make it appear as if belonged to another. Such people continue to try to do what is evil while in the spiritual world, and continue to try to make their evils appear in others. They deny their wrongdoing and struggle against the angels who are there to lead them and instruct them. Such people cannot be led or judged from good, but only from truth, that is, it becomes necessary to open up the contents of their memory so that their actions and thoughts are exposed to all. When their hidden evils are thus exposed by the factual record of their lives, they rush towards hell of their own desire. The Heavenly Doctrines teach

the situation with regard to judgement from truth is this: The Lord never judges anyone except from good, for His will is to lift all men, however many these may be, up to heaven, indeed if it were possible, up to Himself. For the Lord is mercy itself and good itself, and mercy itself and good itself cannot possibly condemn anyone. It is man, who, in rejecting good, condemns himself. As a person has fled habitually from good during his lifetime, so in the next life he flees from it, and therefore from heaven and the Lord. (AC 2335:3)

When some of the scripture passages which refer to how the Lord judges people are taken as instruction as to how we should judge others, confusion results. The fact that the Lord does not wish anyone to go to hell, and so says, I judge no man. (JOH 8:15), does not mean that we should therefore not make judgements about other people.

We all recognize that in order to live in the society of men in the world, we have to make all kinds of judgements about people from the way they speak, dress, and act. It is usually when someone is about to criticize us that we suddenly remember the passage, Judge not that you be not judged. (MAT 7:1) We tend to use this passage to condemn others for being critical of our actions, or to justify our revenge upon them.

The Lord alone knows the state of remains, and thus the state of regeneration with a person. An evil person can counterfeit what is good, while a good person can be caught up in evil. This is why were are forbidden from making judgements concerning the nature of another person’s spiritual life. On the other hand,

One is allowed to judge the nature of another person’s life, private and public, since this is of importance to society. (AC 2284:4)

It is also a temptation with some to sit in judgement on others, saying they cannot be saved unless their beliefs coincide with their own. This kind of spiritual judgement of another is also forbidden. (AC 2284) Conjugial Love 523 puts it very clearly:

The Lord says: Judge not, that ye be not condemned. (MAT 7:1) This can be understood in no wise as meaning judgement concerning a man’s moral and civil life in the world, but as meaning judgement concerning his spiritual and celestial life. Who does not see that were it not lawful for a man to judge as to the moral life of his fellow inhabitants in the world, society would fall! What would society be if there were no public judgements? or if one did not form his own judgement concerning another? What is not lawful, is judgement as to the quality of the interior mind or soul within man, thus as to what his spiritual state is and hence his lot after death. This is known to the Lord only; nor does the Lord reveal it until after death, and this in order that what a man does he may do from freedom, and that thereby good or evil may be from him and so in him, and he thus live for himself and be himself forever.

That the interiors of the mind, hidden in the world, are revealed after death is because this is a matter of importance and use to the societies into which the man then comes; for there all are spiritual. That they are revealed then is plain from these words of the Lord:

There is nothing covered that shall not be revealed, neither hid that shall not be known. Therefore whatsoever ye have spoken in darkness shall be heard in the light, and that which ye have spoken in the ear in closets, shall be proclaimed upon the housetops. (LUK 7:2,3)

A general judgement such as: If in internals you are what you appear to be in externals you will be saved or condemned, is allowed; but a particular judgement such as, You are such in internals and therefore will be saved or condemned, is not allowed.

Our final question for today is how we should judge ourselves. We already know from the doctrines that we are not judged according to some list of past deeds done throughout life in the world, but rather we are judged according to the quality of the character we have built for ourselves through our free-will choices in life. So the question becomes, “How do we expose the nature of our true character so we can amend it as necessary while there is still time to do so?”

The only way to establish the true identity of your affections is to discover the end they have in view. If that end is selfish or worldly those affections are not genuine. But if the end is to good of the neighbour, the good of the community, the good of the country, and more still if it is the good of the Church and the good of the Lord’s kingdom, they are genuine, for in that case the Lord is their end.

It is the mark of someone wise to be aware of which ends are present in himself. Sometimes it does seem as though his ends are selfish when in fact they are not, for the human being is such that in everything he considers how it affects himself. But if anyone wishes to know the ends he himself has in view he has merely to take note of his feeling of delight – whether it is on account of his receiving praise and glory, or whether it is on account of his performing some unselfish service.

If it is the latter delight which he feels, genuine affection is present in him. He ought also to take note of the varying states he passes through, for those states cause his feelings to vary considerably. A person is able to find these thing out in himself, but not in others, for the ends in view to anyone’s affection are known to the Lord alone. This is why the Lord said,

      Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. (Luke 6:37)

For a thousand people may apparently share the same affection for truth and goodness, and yet the affection in each of them may have a different origin, that is, each may have a different end in view.

God does not condemn man and send him to hell, but rather draws Him up as close to Himself as He is able. The judgements that God makes are based on the inmost hidden spiritual states of remains, things that are completely unknown to the man himself, or to other humans, and so the Lord alone is able to judge our spiritual states rightly.

In judging others, we are permitted, and in fact required, to make external judgements based on external behaviours, but we are not permitted to judge the spiritual state of anyone.

If we wish to judge ourselves, we must look to our own goals, the ends for which we do things, for it is the end in view that determines the spiritual quality of any action.

In making judgements, we must always remember the limitations of our view of others. That what appears may not actually be the case. We must try to look beyond the external shell and seek out the eternal ends, and then we may be able to judge ourselves and others, not according to appearance, but to judge with righteous judgement. (text). AMEN.

First Lesson: John 7:1-24

After these things Jesus walked in Galilee; for He did not want to walk in Judea, because the Jews sought to kill Him. {2} Now the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles was at hand. {3} His brothers therefore said to Him, “Depart from here and go into Judea, that Your disciples also may see the works that You are doing. {4} “For no one does anything in secret while he himself seeks to be known openly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” {5} For even His brothers did not believe in Him. {6} Then Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always ready. {7} “The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil. {8} “You go up to this feast. I am not yet going up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come.” {9} When He had said these things to them, He remained in Galilee. {10} But when His brothers had gone up, then He also went up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret. {11} Then the Jews sought Him at the feast, and said, “Where is He?” {12} And there was much complaining among the people concerning Him. Some said, “He is good”; others said, “No, on the contrary, He deceives the people.” {13} However, no one spoke openly of Him for fear of the Jews. {14} Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and taught. {15} And the Jews marvelled, saying, “How does this Man know letters, having never studied?” {16} Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me. {17} “If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on My own authority. {18} “He who speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but He who seeks the glory of the One who sent Him is true, and no unrighteousness is in Him. {19} “Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill Me?” {20} The people answered and said, “You have a demon. Who is seeking to kill You?” {21} Jesus answered and said to them, “I did one work, and you all marvel. {22} “Moses therefore gave you circumcision (not that it is from Moses, but from the fathers), and you circumcise a man on the Sabbath. {23} “If a man receives circumcision on the Sabbath, so that the law of Moses should not be broken, are you angry with Me because I made a man completely well on the Sabbath? {24} “Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgement.” Amen.

Second Lesson: AC 2335

[2] As regards Judgement it is twofold, namely, from good and from truth. The faithful are judged from good, but the unfaithful from truth. That the faithful are judged from good, is plainly evident in Matthew (xxv. 34-40), and that the unfaithful are judged from truth (verses 41 to 46). To be judged from good is to be saved because they have received it; but to be judged from truth is to be condemned because they have rejected good. Good is the Lord’s, and they who acknowledge this in life and faith are the Lord’s, and therefore are saved; but they who do not acknowledge it in life, and consequently not in faith, cannot be the Lord’s, and therefore cannot be saved. They are therefore judged according to the acts of their life and according to their thoughts and ends; and when they are judged according to these, they cannot but be condemned; for it is a truth that of himself a man does, thinks, and intends nothing but evil, and of himself rushes to hell in so far as he is not withheld therefrom by the Lord. [3] But as regards judgement from truth the case is this: The Lord never judges any one except from good; for He desires to raise all into heaven, however many they may be, and indeed, if it were possible, even to Himself; for the Lord is mercy itself and good itself. Mercy itself and good itself can never condemn any one; but it is the man who condemns himself, because he rejects good. As in the life of the body he had shunned good, so does he shun it in the other life; consequently he shuns heaven and the Lord, for the Lord cannot be in anything except good. He is likewise in truth, but not in truth separated from good. That the Lord condemns no one, nor judges any to hell, He says in John:- God sent not His Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. This is the judgement, that the light is come into the world, but men loved the darkness rather than the light, because their works were evil (iii. 17, 19). And in the same:- If any one hear My words, and believe not, I judge him not; for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world (xii. 47). Amen.

Giving to the Lord

A Sermon by James P. Cooper

April 18, 2004

Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you (DEU 16:17).

One of the most precious images of the Christmas story is that of the Wise Men presenting their gifts to the Christ Child. They gave Him gifts as a symbol of their recognition of Him as their King, and their submission to His rule.

We note that giving gifts to the king is an ancient custom, and the Heavenly Doctrines teach that this was done to represent the acknowledgment that the Lord, the King of Kings, is the giver of all gifts. It is also true that this representative was perverted and lead to first to burnt offerings of things the people valued (God is in the sky, smoke goes up, things consumed in a fire aren’t here anymore, so they must have gone up with the smoke to God) until it descended even to human sacrifice. This happened because the people lost sight of what the act represented and began to think naturally and so believe that by sacrificing what they valued most, even their own children, that this would please God, and when God is pleased, He would send good weather and healthy crops and so bring them even greater wealth. We also know that the Lord instituted animal sacrifice with the Jews not because He enjoyed the sacrifices, but to provide a substitute for the human sacrifice that was going on in the nations around them, and which they were inclined to copy.

We know that He taught through Samuel that it was not the sacrifices that He loved, but our obedience. Unfortunately, those ancient people did not want to obey, they wanted to be able to remain in the simple requirements of the covenant, to perform certain rituals and enjoy the Lord’s protection in return. We also know that they were unable to do even that, and repeatedly fell into idolatry and other sins. These things happened to them because they loved the things of the world so much that they didn’t even believe that spiritual things existed.

Aside from the various offerings made at special occasions such as the birth of a child, the Jewish Church required an offering of a tithe, or a minimum of ten percent of each family’s produce. The practical reason was the need to support the priesthood, which could in turn organize and perform the various rituals of the Church which were quite varied and complicated and required a large number of people with specialized skills to serve the needs of the congregation of Israel. The spiritual reasons were that through their rituals, the angels of heaven were inspired to genuine, internal worship of the Lord, and that men would be compelled to learn simple charity.

We are asked to contribute to the church for exactly the same reasons:

It is of spiritual value for each of us to sacrifice what we value to the Lord.

It is absolutely essential that the uses of the church be supported.

It has become the practice in most Christian Churches to support the building of churches and a specifically trained, professional clergy through contributions. By the end of the Reformation in Europe, Sweden, like many European countries, had a state religion. A state religion received the financial support of the state, that is, churches were built and the clergy were paid by funds collected as taxes and administered by the Government.

This was certainly the case in Swedenborg’s day, as indicated in our lesson from the True Christian Religion where it says, “Taxes … are collected for the preservation and protection of their country and the Church” (TCR 430).

This also helps to explain why more is not directly said about contributions to the Church in the Heavenly Doctrines: in those days the common practice was to support the Church from public funds.

We have no intention of even thinking about the implications of having a state religion and state administered funds today. The whole concept of spiritual freedom set forth in the Heavenly Doctrines warns us against such a system.

Doctrinally, spiritually, it is far better for us to be left in freedom to join and support a Church according to our own conscience and needs. But with such freedom comes responsibility. The day of the state religion is over, and with it the financial support of the Church by the state. The freedom of choice is ours, and we earn that freedom by taking the responsibility of the financial support of our Church upon our own shoulders.

It is quite clear from the sense of the letter of the Word that we are to contribute to the physical and material welfare of the physical embodiment of the Church. We read in Exodus,

Speak to the children of Israel, that they bring Me an offering. From everyone who gives it willingly with his heart you shall take My offering (25:2).

They came, both men and women, as many as had a willing heart, and brought earrings and nose rings, rings and necklaces, all jewelry of gold, that is, every man who offered an offering of gold to the LORD (35:22).



The people came willingly, giving of their own treasure so that the tabernacle could be built. And we are told that they gave generously so that there was more than enough to complete the job. The children of Israel, so often complaining and difficult, were capable of acknowledging their debt to Jehovah for bringing them out of the slavery of Egypt and leading them across the wilderness into the promised land of Canaan, a land flowing with milk and honey.

As for us, while we may not have been slaves making bricks in Egypt, we certainly have been enslaved by our evils, we have had to pass through a wilderness of temptation, and, with the Lord’s constant guidance and help, can look forward to eventually entering the spiritual land of Canaan.

We too have a great deal for which to be grateful to the Lord. We should, therefore, heed the words of our text, that

Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you (DEU 16:17).

While on the one hand it is clear that it is extremely important for each of us to give as we are able, it is also extremely important that we not be compelled to give, for true freedom only comes through self-compulsion (See AC 1947).

It’s possible to compel someone to attend a church service, but they cannot be compelled them to listen with attention. External worship can be compelled, but you can never compel internal worship. That is why all the sacrifices that were commanded in the Mosaic Law were called ‘gifts’ and ‘offerings’ for the offerings of that Church represented internal worship. (See AC 1947)

The problem is that our intellectual acknowledgment of the need to contribute to the Church for our own good, and for the good of the Church is neatly balanced by our loves of acquiring and holding on to the riches of the natural world to the point of refusing to acknowledge the gifts we daily receive from God by any kind of gift in return.

Even the disciples themselves, being first of all Jews, had great difficulty understanding the importance of symbolically giving up the things of this world for the sake of spiritual life. We read from Matthew,

A woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table. But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “To what purpose is this waste (26:7-8)?



We need to see clearly and rationally that, in the long run, it is in our own best interest to give up the things of the world for the sake of spiritual things. We read from Luke,

Sell what you have and give alms; provide yourselves money bags which do not grow old, a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches nor moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (12:33-34).


Our reaction to the necessity of giving money to support the public good is actually a measure of our own spiritual states, a way to see who the neighbor is that we love, for as we read in our third lesson,

Spiritual people pay [taxes] with a good will, because they are collected to run the country, to protect it and the church…. Those therefore who regard their country and their church as the neighbor pay their taxes freely and willingly, thinking it wrong to cheat and evade them (TCR 430).



It becomes a question of whom we regard as the neighbor. A person who is wholly involved in natural things only, regards only their own household and their own family as the neighbor. A spiritual man sees that the Church is the neighbor in a greater sense because it is made up of many people and therefore able to perform greater uses. The natural man contributes “unwillingly and reluctantly” (TCR 430).

In the Word, when it speaks of gifts being offered to the Lord, it signifies the things that we offer to the Lord from our hearts, the things that we do from our own will because we love to do them. In themselves, gifts to the Lord through the Church are like all the things we do: if they are regarded apart from the intention behind them, they are nothing but gestures devoid life. On the other hand, if a person’s actions and the intention behind them are considered at the same time, the actions are a way of making the will manifest, and the actions testify as to the character. (See AC 9293).

The case is the same with gifts to the Church, in that it is the will or intention behind these gifts that the Lord looks at, for,

…Every one will receive judgment in the other life according to his deeds; namely, that it will be according to those things which are of the heart, and from this of the life. Gifts offered to the Lord were testifications of such things as are offered by the heart, which are those of faith and charity (AC 9293).

And in confirmation of this, the Writings offer the following passage from Paul in 2 Corinthians,

But this I say: He who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and he who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver (9:6-7).



The New Church is both internal and external. The internals of the Church are the doctrines, and the intentions behind our various actions, but such internals rest on the externals of the Church as a foundation. You can have all the good intentions in the world, but you must, eventually, give them life by committing them to action, or they don’t really exist. It’s like a marriage without hugs and kisses. The internal truths of the Church derive their life and constancy from the sense of the letter of the Word. Our love for the Lord needs to express itself through worship. The Lord’s Church, spiritual and heavenly in origin, needs to have a physical manifestation in order to exist, and that can only happen when men in the world work together to build it and support it.

Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you (LUK 6:38). AMEN.

First Lesson: MAL 3:1-10

“Behold, I send My messenger, And he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, Will suddenly come to His temple, Even the Messenger of the covenant, In whom you delight. Behold, He is coming,” Says the LORD of hosts. {2} “But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? For He is like a refiner’s fire And like launderer’s soap. {3} He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, And purge them as gold and silver, That they may offer to the LORD An offering in righteousness. {4} “Then the offering of Judah and Jerusalem Will be pleasant to the LORD, As in the days of old, As in former years. {5} And I will come near you for judgment; I will be a swift witness Against sorcerers, Against adulterers, Against perjurers, Against those who exploit wage earners and widows and orphans, And against those who turn away an alien; Because they do not fear Me,” Says the LORD of hosts. {6} “For I am the LORD, I do not change; Therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob. {7} Yet from the days of your fathers You have gone away from My ordinances And have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,” Says the LORD of hosts. “But you said, ‘In what way shall we return?’ {8} “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, ‘In what way have we robbed You?’ In tithes and offerings. {9} You are cursed with a curse, For you have robbed Me, Even this whole nation. {10} Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, That there may be food in My house, And try Me now in this,” Says the LORD of hosts, “If I will not open for you the windows of heaven And pour out for you such blessing That there will not be room enough to receive it. Amen.


Second Lesson: LUK 6:27:38

“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, {28} “bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. {29} “To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either. {30} “Give to everyone who asks of you. And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back. {31} “And just as you want men to do to you, you also do to them likewise. {32} “But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. {33} “And if you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. {34} “And if you lend to those from whom you hope to receive back, what credit is that to you? For even sinners lend to sinners to receive as much back. {35} “But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. {36} “Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful. {37} “Judge not, and you shall not be judged. Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. {38} “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you.” Amen.

Third Lesson: TCR 429, 430

Some charitable duties are public, some domestic and some private. There is a difference between charitable kindnesses and charitable duties, like that between acts undertaken by free choice and those done of necessity. Still, by charitable duties we do not here mean the duties attached to office in a kingdom or republic, such as that of ministers to administer, of judges to judge, and so on, but the duties of every individual whatever his occupation. They come therefore from a different origin and are the result of a different act of will, so that those who are charitable do them out of charity, and in the opposite case the uncharitable do them out of lack of charity.

430. Public charitable duties are chiefly taxes and excise duties, which must not be confused with the duties of office. Those who are spiritual feel differently about paying them from those who are purely natural. Spiritual people pay them with a good will, because they are collected to run the country, to protect it and the church, and to pay for its administration by officials and governors, whose salaries and stipends have to be paid out of the public treasury. Those therefore who regard their country and their church as the neighbor pay their taxes freely and willingly, thinking it wrong to cheat and evade them. But those who do not regard their country and church as the neighbor pay them unwillingly and reluctantly, defrauding the collector and withholding money whenever they have an opportunity. For these people their home and their flesh are the neighbor. Amen.

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