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)

The Degrees of the Relationship of Neighbour

The Degrees of the Relationship of Neighbour

Not only is man individually the neighbour, but also man collectively; for indeed a smaller and larger society, our country, the church, the Lord’s kingdom, and above all the Lord Himself, is the neighbour. These are the neighbour to which good is to be done from love. These are also the ascending degrees of neighbour. For a society consisting of many is neighbour in a higher degree than an individual man; in a still higher degree our country; in a degree yet higher the church; and in a degree higher still the Lord’s kingdom; but in the highest degree the Lord is the neighbour. These ascending degrees are as the steps of a ladder, at the top of which is the &rd.

A society is our neighbour more than an individual man, because it consists of many. Charity is to be exercised towards it as towards man individually, that is, according to the quality of good that is in it; and therefore in an entirely different manner towards a society of well-disposed than towards a society of evil-disposed persons. A society is loved when its good is consulted from the love of good.

Our country is our neighbour more than a society, because it is as a parent; for there a man is born, and it fosters him and protects him from injuries. Good is to be done to our country from love according to its necessities, which have regard especially to its sustenance, and the civil life and spiritual life of those that are therein. He who loves his country and does good to it from good will, in the other life loves the Lord’s kingdom; for there the Lord’s kingdom is his country. And he who loves the Lord’s kingdom loves the Lord, for the Lord is all in all in His kingdom.

The church is the neighbour more than our country; for he who cares for the church cares for the souls and eternal life of the men who dwell in his country. And therefore he who from love cares for the church loves his neighbour in a superior degree; for he desires and wills for others heaven and happiness of life to eternity.

The Lord’s kingdom is the neighbour in a still higher degree, because the Lord’s kingdom consists of all who are in good, both those who are on earth as those that are in the heavens. Thus the Lord’s kingdom is good with its every quality in the complex; when this is loved the individuals who are in good are loved.

These are the degrees of the neighbour, and with those who are in love towards their neighbour the love ascends according to these degrees. But these degrees are degrees in successive order, in which what is prior or superior must be preferred to what is posterior or inferior; and as the Lord is in the supreme degree, and He is to be regarded in each degree as the end to which it looks, therefore He is to be loved above all men and above all things. From all this now it may be seen how love to the Lord conjoins itself with love towards the neighbour. (HD n. 91-96)



Who is the Neighbor

It shall first be shown what the neighbour is; for it is the neighbour who is to be loved, and towards whom charity is to be exercised. For unless it be known what the neighbour is charity may be exercised, without distinction, in the same manner towards the evil as towards the good, whereby charity ceases to be charity; for the evil do evil to the neighbour from the benefactions conferred on them, but the good do good.

It is a common opinion at this day that every man is equally the neighbour, and that benefits are to be conferred on every one who needs assistance: but it concerns Christian prudence to look well to the quality of a man’s life, and to exercise charity towards him accordingly. The man of the internal church exercises his charity with discrimination, and therefore with intelligence; but the man of the external church, because he cannot so well discern things, does it indiscriminately.
The distinctions of neighbour, which the man of the church ought well to know, depend upon the good that is in every one. And because every good proceeds from the Lord, therefore the neighbour in the highest sense and in a supereminent degree is the Lord, from whom is the origin [of the relationship]. Hence it follows that in so far as any one is receptive of the Lord in that degree he is our neighbour; and since no one receives the Lord, that is good from Him, in the same manner as another, therefore no one is our neighbour in the same manner as another. For all who are in the heavens and all the good that are on earth differ in good; no two ever receive good that is exactly one and the same. It must be different that each may subsist by itself. But all these varieties, —that is all the distinctions of neighbour which depend on the reception of the Lord, or, on the reception of good from Him,— can never be known by any man; nor indeed by any angel except in general, or as to their genera and species. And the Lord does not require more of the man of the church than to live according to what he knows.

Since the good with every one is different, it follows that the quality of his good determines in what degree and in what respect any one is our neighbour. That this is so is plain from the Lord’s parable concerning him who fell among thieves, whom half dead the priest passed by, and also the Levite; but the Samaritan, after he had bound up his wounds and poured in oil and wine, took him upon his own beast, and led him to an inn, and ordered that care should be taken of him. Because he exercised the good of charity he is called the neighbour (Luke x. 29-37). It may be known from this that they who are in good are our neighbour. The oil and wine moreover which the Samaritan poured into the wounds signify good and its truth.

It is plain from what has now been said that in the universal sense good is the neighbour; inasmuch as a man is neighbour according to the quality of the good that is in him from the Lord. And as good is the neighbour so is love, for all good is of love; therefore every man is our neighbour according to the quality of the love which he possesses from the Lord. (HD n. 84-88)

Good is the neighbour because good is of the will, and the will is the being of a man’s life. The truth of the understanding is also the neighbour, but in so far as it proceeds from the good of the will; for the good of the will forms itself in the understanding, and there makes itself visible in the light of reason. That good is the neighbour is evident from all experience. Who loves a person except for the quality of his will and understanding, that is for what is good and just in him? For example, who loves a king, a prince, a duke, a governor, a consul, or the person of any magistrate, or any judge, but for the discretion from which they act and speak? Who loves a primate, or any minister or canon of the church, but for his learning, uprightness of life, and zeal for the salvation of souls? Who loves the general of an army, or any officer under him, but for his courage, and at the same time prudence? Who loves a  merchant but for his sincerity?. Who loves a workman or a servant but for his fidelity? Nay, who likes a tree but for its fruit? or ground but for its fertility? or a stone but for its preciousness? &c. And what is remarkable, not only does an upright man love what is good and just in another, but a man who is not upright also does; because with him he is in no fear of the loss of fame, honour, or wealth. But with one who is not upright the love of good is not love of the neighbour; for he does not inwardly love the other, except in so far as he is of service to him. But to love the good in another from good in one’s self is genuine love towards the neighbour; for then the goods mutually kiss and are united with each other. (TCR n. 418)