THEY LIE IN WAIT FOR MY LIFE

THEY LIE IN WAIT FOR MY LIFE

A Sermon by Rev. Donald L. Rose Preached in Bryn Athyn February 2, 1997

“All their thoughts are against me for evil. They gather together, they hide, they mark my steps, when they lie in wait for my life” (Psalm 56:6).

There was a shepherd boy, strong and handsome. The meaning of his name is “beloved.” The name is David. The shepherd boy was destined to become king, destined to live a life of great adventure.

It was a life repeatedly attended with mortal danger. There were dangers that he was aware of. They were clear enough: danger from a lion and a bear; danger from a giant named Goliath; danger from hosts of Philistines with swords and spears.

But there were other dangers, more subtle but very real. And if he had not been told about those dangers, his life would have been short indeed. What we see happening in the story of David is his being warned of such dangers, particularly being warned about the intentions of King Saul. Saul was his king, his protector, his benefactor, and beneath it all his deadly enemy. Jonathan, David’s dear friend, saved his life by warning him. And David’s wife Michal warned David one night when the house was surrounded, saying, “If you do not save your life tonight, tomorrow you will be killed” (I Sam. 19:11).

Two of the psalms were composed at a time when David had learned that his life was in peril. Psalm 59 was composed that night when Michal revealed Saul’s plot and when David knew that he was in a house surrounded by those ready to kill him. The psalm begins as follows: “Deliver me from my enemies, O my God. Defend me from those who rise up against me … For look, they lie in wait for life … Not for my transgression nor for my sin, O Lord.”

Another psalm was written when David had sought refuge in Gath but there found that people were talking about him and planning to kill him. “Now David took these words to heart and was very much afraid of Achish king of Gath” (I Sam. 21:12). Because he knew of the danger he was in, he was able to pretend madness and make his escape. The fear he felt before he made that escape is evident in the psalm which he then composed. But infinitely more is contained in the psalm, for it is the Word of God. In it David says, “All day they twist my words; all their thoughts are against me for evil. They gather, they hide, they mark my steps when they lie in wait for my life” (Psalm 56:5, 6).

The psalms sometimes portray man as under siege. He is in a predicament, surrounded by dangers and anxieties and fears. The psalms continually speak of “enemies.” Man is portrayed as being the object of threat and hatred. What is the reality? The Writings say that an incredible “intense hatred” prevails in the spiritual world against things relating to love and faith in the Lord. In fact they say that unless the Lord defended a person every moment he would perish as a result of this hatred (see AC 59). Jesus warned His disciples, “You shall be hated” (Matt. 10:27, Mark 13:13).

In our lesson from Divine Providence 211, we read that Divine Providence is like a person “in company with an enemy who intends to kill him which at the time he does not know, and a friend leads him away by unknown paths, and afterward discloses his enemy’s intention.”

When we say that a person is his own worst enemy, we are usually talking about a person who does not know is not aware of his problem. If only the person realized how much he or she is sabotaging his or her own happiness. It is not easy for another person to get the message across. To do it takes patience and tact and real caring. In the Divine Providence in time we learn about the things in our lives which we thought were our friends, which are our enemies. We walk through life with some loves which do a lot for us, just as Saul did a lot for David. There are many examples, such as a pride that has us taking credit and basking in the warmth of self-merit, even thinking that taking credit and bragging can be a source of happiness. If we think that, we have a lot to learn, and we may learn it very slowly through many experiences.

The Lord said, “A man’s foes shall be they of his own household” (Matt. 10:36). Our own evils, as dear to us as the inhabitants of our house, can be the foes of which the Word warns us.

But there is another sense in which we are in danger. The danger is from outside the house; it surrounds the house. We mean those forces from hell which intend us harm. The evil spirits who associate with us can stir up the evils within us.

There is a chapter in the book Heaven and Hell that is entitled “The Malice and Nefarious Arts of Infernal Spirits” (HH 576). In it we learn that evil spirits are subtle and devious, and we learn that they have a malice, that is, that they intend harm. “All their thoughts are against me for evil. They gather, they hide, they mark my steps, when they lie in wait for my life” (Ps. 56:5, 6). The teaching is that “so far as anyone is innocent they burn to do him harm; therefore they cannot bear to see little children, and as soon as they see them they are inflamed with a cruel desire to do them harm” (HH 283).

What are some of the things they endeavor to do? They are in a constant endeavor to dissolve marriages (see HH 382). They endeavor to stir up enmities. They lead a person into thoughts about himself (see HH 558a). Indeed, by leading a person into thoughts about himself, they can stir up those enmities. We read, “There is a certain kind of spirits, who … stir up enmities, hatreds, and fights among others. I have seen the consequent fights and wondered at them. I inquired who they were, and was told that they were that kind of spirits who excite such passions because they are bent on being sole rulers, according to the maxim, Divide and rule” (AC 5718). “Wondered” at them. Do you ever wonder at the fights you observe, or have you ever stood back far enough from the fights in which you have been involved to wonder at them?

We will return to that word “divide” in a moment, because the effort of evil spirits is to tear asunder, to dissolve, and to divide so that they can rule.

The effort of evil spirits is to destroy happiness. One way they do this is to accuse. They stir up memories of anything that one has done wrong, and they even take innocent memories and turn them into subjects of accusation. “They call up all the wrong things that from his infancy a man has either done or even thought … and condemn him” (AC 741). “They call forth from a person’s memory whatever he has thought and done from his infancy. Evil spirits do this with a skill and malignity so great as to be indescribable … This a person perceives “only by the recalling of such things to mind and a certain anxiety therefrom” (AC 751).

The word in the New Testament that is related to worry or anxiety is the word merimnao. Its root connotation is dividing. The root word to “divide” is merizo. It is used in the saying, “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mark 3:25, Matt. 12:25, Luke 11:17).

The Writings mention an old maxim, “Divide and rule” (see AC 5718, SD 1793, TCR 133e). There are spheres that can affect us inwardly that can divide things in our minds. We read of spheres which pose blocks in our minds between faith and charity. We read in TCR: “I have felt this sphere, and at such times, when I thought of the conjunction of faith and charity, it interposed itself between them and violently endeavored to separate them” (TCR 619:6).

An experience described in the Arcana Coelestia seems a little closer to what we experience. “The effect of this sphere was to take from me the power of close application, and to make it so irksome for me to act and to think in serious matters, true and good, that at last I scarcely knew what to do. When such as these come among spirits, they induce on them a similar torpor” (AC 1509).

Does this relate to times when we just can’t make decisions of what to do or to times when we simply procrastinate and seem somehow unable to do the thing that most needs doing? Here is the same passage in more recent translation: “Their sphere was such that it took away from me my whole concentration and made it so extremely troublesome for me to carry out and to think about serious things, true and good, that at length I hardly knew what to do. When such individuals as these come among spirits, they bring upon them a similar listlessness” (AC 1509). There is a word used particularly in psychiatry which describes an inability to get started doing something or to decide what to do. The word is “abulia.”

If the core of happiness is in useful activity, then we are not surprised if the enemies of our happiness in various ways cripple our application to use. If they endeavor to harm innocence, to dissolve marriages, and to stir up fights among friends, they will undermine our love of use. Idleness is said to be “the devil’s pillow” (Charity 168). For, “In idleness the mind is spread out to various evils and falsities, but in work it is held to one thing” (SD 6088:4).

In the book Conjugial Love there is a chapter on causes of cold in marriage. One of the causes given is a lack of devotion to any useful pursuit or business. Here we read, “While a man is in some pursuit and business, that is, in some use, his mind is bounded and circumscribed as by a circle, within which it is successively integrated into a form truly human. From this as from a house he sees the various lusts as outside of himself, and from sanity of reason within, banishes them” (CL 249).

Any focus we have on what is useful is like a house, a house in which we can find comfort and from which we can view life with good perspective. If you know that your purpose in life is to promote the happiness of others, you look out upon the world with a sane perspective and with some taste of heaven’s delight.

The text from the psalms seems to picture one looking out from a house threatened with dangers. “They hide, they mark my steps, when they lie in wait for my life.” Does the knowledge that there are dangers make us feel less secure? Do we get a paranoid attitude, a persecution complex, from the knowledge that evil spirits would divide our house, would dissolve our marriages and interfere with our delight in use?

Well, the context of statements about this is not a fearful one, but rather one that has a special sense of security. We are reminded of the Lord’s saying, “In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The Lord said, “Blessed are you when men hate you” (Luke 6:22). “Blessed are you when they revile you and persecute you, and say all kind of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad” (Matt. 5:11).

Let us conclude with one example from the Writings and one from the Psalms. In the Arcana Coelestia we read: “I have sometimes been surrounded by thousands to whom it was permitted to spit forth their venom, and infest me by all possible methods, yet without their being able to hurt a single hair of my head, so secure was I under the Lord’s protection” (AC 59).

And in the Psalms it is said, “I will not be afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around” (Ps. 3:6).

There are indeed dangers and threats that surround us. Let the knowledge of this make us value all the more what we have. And let us, if we know there is a danger, always know at the same time that we have a Divine Protector. This is the reality of our lives. The passages about our enemies shows them turned backward, confounded, defeated and subjugated.

We have a shield, a rock, a fortress, a shepherd who prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies, the Lord Jesus Christ who says, “If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you … If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:19, 20). “In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Amen.


Lessons: I Samuel 19:1-18, 21:10-15, Matt. 10:22-39, AC 5718, 1509, DP 211

Arcana Coelestia 1509

For several days such spirits were with me as during their life in this world had cared nothing for the good of society, but only for themselves, being useless members of the commonwealth, and who had had no end but to live sumptuously, to be clothed splendidly, and to grow rich; being well practiced in simulation, and in ways of insinuating themselves by various forms of flattering assent and a display of services, but only that they might seem devoted, and be intrusted with their master’s goods, while they looked down with contempt upon all who were earnestly employed. It was perceived that they had been courtiers. The effect of their sphere was to take from me the power of close application, and to make it so irksome for me to act and to think in serious matters, true and good, that at last I scarcely knew what to do. When such as these come among spirits, they induce on them a similar torpor. In the other life they are useless members, and are rejected wherever they come.

Divine Providence 211

The reason why the Divine Providence operates so secretly that scarcely anyone knows of its existence is that man may not perish. For man’s proprium, that is, his will, in no wise acts as one with the Divine Providence, against which man’s proprium has an inborn enmity; for it is the serpent that seduced our first parents of which it is said, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head” (Gen. 3:55). The serpent is evil of every kind, its head is self-love; the seed of the woman is the Lord; the enmity that is put is between the love of man’s proprium and the Lord, and thus between man’s own prudence and the Divine Providence of the Lord. For man’s own prudence is continually raising that head, and the Divine Providence is continually putting it down.

If man felt this he would be enraged and exasperated against God, and would perish; but while he does not feel this he may be enraged and exasperated against men and against himself and also against fortune, without perishing. Hence it is that the Lord by His Divine Providence continually leads man in freedom, and the freedom appears to him to be none other than his own; and to lead man in freedom in opposition to himself is like lifting up a heavy and resisting weight from the ground by means of screws, through the power of which the weight and the resistance are not felt; or it is like what happens to a man in the company of an enemy who intends to kill him, an intention he is not aware of; and a friend leads him away by unknown paths and afterwards discloses to him his enemy’s intention.

Arcana Coelestia 5718.

There is a certain kind of spirits who, because they wish to have dominion, and to be sole rulers over all others, to this end stir up enmities, hatreds, and fights among others. I have seen the consequent fights, and wondered at them. I inquired who they were, and was told that they were that kind of spirits who excite such passions because they are bent on being sole rulers, according to the maxim, Divide and rule. It was also granted me to talk with them, and they immediately said that they rule all. But it was given to answer that they were insanity personified if they sought to establish their rule by such means …

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LOVE YOUR ENEMIES

LOVE YOUR ENEMIES

A Sermon by Rev Peter M. Buss, Jr.Preached in Mitchellville, MarylandFebruary 4, 1996

We have a challenging section of the Word to focus on this morning. The words themselves are easy enough to understand, but the meaning – what the Lord is asking us to do – can easily elude us. We read from the Sermon on the Mount:

 

You have heard that it was said, ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I tell you not to resist an evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also (Matthew 5:38,39).

We can guess at the intended message: that the Lord wants us to respond to evil with something other than revenge or anger; but beyond that, questions arise. Are we really meant to let evil run its course? Do we have to put up with the abuse other people inflict upon us?

Fortunately, answers have been given. The Writings for the New Church come to our rescue and explain that we do not need to take these words too literally. But there is an important message contained within, which teaches us a great deal about how to respond to injustice when we are the victims.

David and Saul. To begin thinking about the meaning we turn to the story of David and Saul (see I Samuel 26:5-12). Saul was jealous of David’s success and wanted to kill him. Twice during David’s extended flight he had the opportunity to kill Saul. We read about how David and Abishai came into the middle of Saul’s camp one night and stood over Saul while he and the whole camp slept. Abishai, ever willing to please, asked David if he could take Saul’s spear by his head, and thrust it through him, for as he said, “God has delivered your enemy into your hand” (1 Samuel 26:8). But David would not let him, saying, “Who can stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless?” (1 Samuel 26:9). David had the motive, the opportunity, and even the justification (by most people’s standards) to kill Saul. But he didn’t because the Lord forbade it. He refused to repay evil with evil.

Although he may have acted out of simple obedience (he may have wanted to kill Saul even though he didn’t), we can admire his steadfast character – especially in the context of a nation whose rule was: an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth (see Exodus 21:23-25; Leviticus 24:17-20).

Looking within. In the New Testament we hear the Lord asking people to go the next step. Instead of just resisting revenge, He asks us not to resist evil. We are to love our enemies – to turn the other cheek. The interior message is that we need to master more than our actions and speech; we also need to notice the emotions and feelings, our thoughts, intentions and attitudes which cause us to act in certain ways. These are things of the internal realm, within our minds. In His request to “turn the other cheek” we are invited by the Lord to reflect on our reactions to evil when we see it – when we are the victims. Do we clench with anger and coil up – repay wrong for wrong? Or do we have the courage to resist that primal urge and hear the Lord asking us to be merciful instead of vengeful?

The urge to seek revenge. Like it or not, we are the center of our own universe. Although this does refer to our love of self, a love which the Lord wants us to work on, the main reason for bringing it up is that it speaks to our perspective in general. We know our own thoughts and intentions; we do not necessarily know those of other people. We feel the pain when someone says or does something cruel to us; we don’t automatically perceive what’s going on in the other person’s mind.

Because of this self-centered view, we have a natural and automatic surge of defensiveness when attacked. It takes an effort of will to rise above such an inclination, to think about the thoughts and feelings of someone else.

Let me offer a couple of examples to give a context in which to think about this principle of overcoming our native perspective:

1) If someone short-changes us at the checkout, it’s easy to assume that that person is incompetent. It takes more effort to reflect that the person may have just made a mistake.

2) If someone lies to us knowingly, it’s easy to insinuate all kinds of negative things about that person’s spiritual character – maybe even say a few of them. It’s harder to open ourselves up to think about the reasons the person lied, and how best to deal with the situation.

3) If someone insensitively yells at us for something we didn’t do, our natural tendency is to yell back to make sure he or she knows of the injustice. It takes more courage to explain the error calmly, and to hold no ill will toward the person.

The list could go on and on. These things happen all the time. Therefore we need the Lord’s words of encouragement, reminding us to rise above our instinctive desire to repay injustice, and instead be moved to think about what’s going on in other people’s minds as we experience our own thoughts and emotions.

“Turn the other cheek.” I believe the Lord knows He’s asking a lot of us in this regard. It is difficult to counter cruelty with mercy. He explains this by means of the very words He chose during His Sermon on the Mount. The things He asks there intentionally go against our common sense – beyond what we would reasonably expect the Lord to ask of us. Think about what it means to “turn the other cheek.” A person slaps you in the face. Such an act is an affront to our selfhood. It is a way of cutting someone to the core – of provoking us to almost certain anger. Yet the Lord says in effect, “Let him slap you again.”

The rest of the requests are equally as alarming if we think about actually doing what the Lord says. If someone wants your clothes, He asks you to give them up. If someone needs to borrow money, He asks you to lend without expecting repayment. He commands us all to give any of our possessions to anyone who asks. The reason for this imagery is to make us aware that it is not easy to overcome our desire for revenge. It is not something, we would tend to do if left to ourselves.

There is a deeper reason, of course. It comes by means of the internal sense. A passage from Arcana Coelestia explains:

Who can fail to see that these words should not be taken literally? Who is going to turn his left cheek to one who has smacked him on the right cheek? Who is going to give his cloak to one who wishes to take away his tunic? Who is going to give what he has to all who ask for it? And who will not resist evil? But these words cannot be understood by anyone who does not know what the right cheek and the left, tunic and cloak, a mile, a loan, and all the rest are being used to mean. The subject in these verses is spiritual life or the life of faith, not natural life, which is the life of the world (AC 9049:5; cf. AE 556:8).

Spiritual life is the key. Again the Lord is asking us to focus on what’s going on in our minds – our intentions, affections, thoughts, attitudes. When someone insults us, what happens to our spiritual life? What causes us to react in a merciful or vengeful way? This is what comes out by means of the internal sense.

Spiritual Associations. A major idea is contained within the Lord’s introduction to His message: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth’ ” (Matt. 5:38). This again is the law of retaliation. It is the exact opposite of the Golden Rule which the Lord spoke of later in the same address: “Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them” (Matt 7:12; Luke 6:31). The truth contained within is that one is the law of heaven, while the other is the law of hell. In heaven, angels are motivated by mutual love, or charity – they do to others as they want others to do to them (see AR 762). But devils in hell place themselves first, desiring to abuse and manipulate those around them. When it doesn’t work, they break forth with acts of violence and cruelty. But the law of retaliation takes effect, and whatever they do to others comes crashing back on them in the form of punishments (ibid.). By such means the Lord maintains some semblance of order in the hells.

The power of such a teaching is that it opens up a reality never before known. In the lessons we read about our spiritual associations (see AC 4067). We are in the presence of spirits and angels right now. The spiritual world, the realm of the afterlife, is full of people who once lived on earth. The Lord uses them to lead us. Every single thing we think and feel is caused by our association with certain spirits. We are present with spirits who like to think and feel the same way we do, even though we are entirely unaware of it.

The passage gave some examples. A covetous person is in association with covetous spirits; a person who loves himself pre-eminently is with those who share this self-pride; one who takes delight in revenge (an emotion particularly appropriate in this context) is among spirits who feed that desire. It also mentions that people who avoid such vices are in association with angels in heaven, and are thereby led by the Lord Himself.

With this backdrop we can think again about our response to evil or insensitivity. When we react with anger or vengeance it is never from the Lord. When we repay anger with anger, violence with violence, then we are acting under the law of retaliation – the law that governs hell. The result is that we are in association with devils in hell, and as the passage from Arcana Coelestia explains:

[We are] utterly under their control, so much so that [we are] not under [our] own jurisdiction but under theirs, [even though we imagine] from the delight [we experience), and so from the freedom [we have], that [we are] in control of [ourselves) (AC 4067).

Only when we reflect on the fact that there’s more going on than our own emotions and thoughts, that someone else is involved, that there may be reasons for his or her actions, do we open ourselves up to charity – to thoughts about how we would want to be treated if the roles were reversed. Then we are in association with angels of heaven and we are led by the Lord.

This is an amazing new truth which gives us a totally new way of approaching our dealings with other people. Our goal is to be led by the Lord and His angels rather than to fall into the traps of hell.

Specific requests. With this backdrop of our connection with the spiritual world, we can look at a few of the phrases of the Lord’s words, and see clearly what the Lord is asking us to do.

(1) “Do not resist an evil person,” He says. What He means is “Don’t repay evil with evil.” Why? Because it will never help. All it does is bring us into association with the hells. Their desire is to hurt us and control us. If we respond to their influx, we suffer. We can think of anger as an example. It is a powerful emotion. We may derive some delusionary pleasure from “letting someone have it,” but more often than not we end up feeling remorseful and guilty. It doesn’t lead anywhere good.

(2) Our goal, then, is to avoid such consequences. The first way to do so is “to turn the other cheek.” A “cheek” represents an interior understanding of the truth (see AE 556:9; cf. AC 9049:6). When we truly understand the Lord’s request to resist vengeful emotions, we will see that He is asking us to respond from a charitable perspective. “Striking the cheek” represents a desire to destroy (ibid.). When someone steals from us or is cruel, the Lord asks us not to strike back – not to desire to destroy. Instead our goal is to respond from that interior understanding which is “the other cheek” from an interior affection of love toward the neighbor. This includes many of the other things the Lord asks. We are to “love [our] enemies, bless those who curse [us], do good to those who hate [us], and pray for those who spitefully use [us] and persecute [us]” (Matt. 5:43).

In this we see a tremendous challenge: to overcome that instinctive reaction and to act from a higher motive instead; to take influx from heaven rather than hell; to think about the other person – the one who is abusing us – from respect, as a person; to ask ourselves how the Lord would want us to respond. Once we’ve considered these things then we can react. It may be with zeal, or with a desire to clarify the cause for the confrontation, or with a decision to remove ourselves from the situation. Whatever our response actually is, it will be from charity, and so from heaven.

(3) Again the Lord knows that is hard. It is our goal, but we may not always succeed. So the Lord offers a starting point in the next sentence: “If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also” (Matt. 5:40). A “cloak” represents an external understanding of the truth as opposed to the internal understanding represented by a “cheek” (see AE 556:9, AC 9049:6). What the Lord asks here is that we obey even if we don’t feel like it. If we can’t bring ourselves to respond to our “adversary” from a genuinely charitable attitude, then obedience is a place to begin. We may want to respond with anger or revenge, but the Lord asks us not to. It might be useful to think again of David and Saul. David had the opportunity to kill Saul, his enemy, but he did not because the Lord forbade it.

(4) Still, such external obedience should not be our home base. It is just a starting point. The Lord wants us to work toward the goal of genuine mercy and forgiveness. He says so in the last phrase we’ll look at today: “And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two” (Matt. 5:41). Going the extra mile represents our willingness to work toward the goal of charity. The more we resist our urge to repay wrong for wrong, the more the Lord will lead us toward control to such a degree that we feel nothing but affection for those in disorder. This doesn’t mean we have to feel happy for them. But it does mean we feel concern, and respond with the idea of helping the situation rather than making it worse. If we do so, then we are on the road to experiencing love toward the neighbor as the angels of heaven do.

Conclusion. The Lord asks us not to resist evil. In the internal sense He explains that evil has its own punishment (see AR 762). He asks that we avoid being affected by someone else’s wrongdoing to such a degree that we drop to their level of operation. All it does is cause us to receive influx from hell.

Instead He says, “Love your enemies …. Do good to those who hate you” (Matt. 5:44). The overriding rule is to do to others as we would have them do to us. If we heed this rule and hold it up as our goal, then we will be “sons of the Father in heaven” (Matt. 5:45). In other words, the Lord will be leading us. He will protect us from harm, and evil will not have its intended effect on us. We won’t respond with anger or vengeance because the source of our response will be heaven rather than hell. As the passage from Arcana Coelestia says:

As [we allow ourselves] to be led to good which is more interior and more perfect, so [we are] conveyed [by the Lord] to more interior and more perfect angelic societies (AC 4067).

Into these societies we will come after death if we make mutual love or charitable regard for others our rule of life. Amen.

Lessons: Matt. 5:38-48; 1 Samuel 26:5-12; AC 4067 (a portion)

 


Arcana Coelestia 4067 (a portion)

[3] Moreover, the good in a person appears to him as what is simple or one, and yet is so manifold, and consists of things so various, that the person cannot possibly explore so much as its generals. It is the same with the evil in a person. Such as is the good in a person, such is the society of angels with him and such as is the evil in a person, such is the society of evil spirits with him. The person summons these societies to himself, that is, he places himself in a society of such spirits; for like is associated with like. For example: the person who is avaricious summons to himself societies of like spirits who are in the same cupidity. The person who loves himself in preference to others, and who despises others, summons those who are like himself. He who takes delight in revenge summons such as are in a like delight; and so in all other cases. These spirits communicate with hell, and the person is in the midst of them, and is altogether ruled by them, insomuch that he is not at his own disposal, but is at theirs, although from the delight and consequent freedom that he enjoys he supposes that he directs himself. But the person who is not avaricious, or who does not love himself in preference to others, nor despise others, and who does not take delight in revenge, is in a society of similar angels, and is led by the Lord by their means, and indeed by means of his freedom, to all the good and truth to which he suffers himself to be led; and in proportion as he suffers himself to be led to more interior and more perfect good, in the same proportion he is brought to more interior and perfect angelic societies. The changes of his state are nothing else than changes of societies. That this is the case is evident to me from the continuous experience of many years, whereby the fact has become as familiar to me as is that which has been familiar to a person from his infancy.

Love to the Lord and Love to the Neighbor distinguished

Love to the Lord and Love to the Neighbor distinguished

The Divine abiding with those who have faith in the Lord is. love and charity: and by love is meant love to the Lord; and by charity love towards the neighbour. Love to the Lord cannot be separated from love towards the neighbour; for the Lord’s love is towards the whole human race, which He desires to save eternally, and to adjoin entirely to Himself, so that none of them may perish. Whoever therefore has love to the Lord has the Lord’s love, and so cannot but love his neighbour. But they who are in love towards the neighbour are not all therefore in love to the Lord; as upright Gentiles who are in ignorance concerning the Lord,—with whom yet the Lord is present in charity; and others also within the church. For love to the Lord is love in a higher degree. Those who have love to the Lord are celestial men; and those that have love towards the neighbour or charity are spiritual men. The Most Ancient church, which was before the flood and was celestial, was in love to the Lord; but the Ancient church, which was after the flood and was spiritual, was in love towards the neighbour or in charity. (AC n. 2023)

Love to Enemies

Internal men, such as the angels of heaven are, do not desire retaliation of evil for evil, but from heavenly charity freely forgive; for they know that the Lord defends all who are in good against the evil, and that He defends according to the good in them; and that He would not defend if on account of evil done them they should be inflamed with enmity, hatred, and revenge, for these avert protection. (AC n. 556)

The Presence of the Lord with Man is according to Neighbourly Love or Charity

The presence of the Lord is according to the state of love to the neighbour and of faith in which a man is. The Lord is present in love to the neighbour, because in all good. Not so in faith, as it is called, without love; for faith without love and charity is a thing separate or disjoined. Wherever there is conjunction there must be a conjoining medium, which only is love and charity. This may appear to every one from the consideration that the Lord is merciful to all, and loves every one, and desires to make every one happy to eternity; whoever therefore is not in such love that he is merciful towards others, loves others, and desires to make others happy, cannot be conjoined to the Lord, because of his dissimilitude and his utter destitution of the image of the Lord. For a man to look up to the Lord by faith, as it is said, and hate his neighbour, is not only to stand afar off from Him, but also to have an infernal gulf between himself and the Lord, into which he would fall were he to approach more nearly; for hatred against the neighbour is the infernal gulf which is interposed. The presence of the Lord with man is first vouchsafed when he loves his neighbour; for the Lord is in love, and so far as man is in love the Lord is present; and in the degree in which the Lord is present He speaks with man. (AC n. 904)