(AC) - A Disclosure of the Hidden Treasures of Heaven Contained in the Holy Scripture or Word of the Lord, Together with Amazing Things Seen in the World of Spirits and in the Heaven of Angels

AC 4955

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4955. What these words involve in the internal sense will appear from what follows. Be it known in the first place that the works here enumerated are the very works of charity in their order. This no one can see who is not acquainted with the internal sense of the Word, that is, who does not know what is meant by giving the hungry to eat, giving the thirsty to drink, gathering the stranger, clothing the naked, visiting the sick, and coming unto those who are in prison. He who thinks of these acts from the sense of the letter only, infers that they mean good works in the external form, and that there is nothing secret in them beyond this; and yet there is something secret in each of them, which is Divine, because from the Lord. But the secret is not at this day understood, because at this day there are no doctrinals of charity; for ever since men have separated charity from faith, these doctrinals have perished, and in place of them the doctrinals of faith have been invented and received, which do not at all teach what charity is and what the neighbor. The doctrinals existing among the ancients taught all the genera and all the species of charity, and also who the neighbor is toward whom charity is to be exercised, and how one is the neighbor in a different degree and in a different respect from another, and consequently how the exercise of charity varies in its application toward different persons. They also grouped the neighbor together into classes, and assigned them names, calling some the poor, needy, miserable, afflicted; some the blind, lame, halt, and also fatherless and widows; and others the hungry, thirsty, strangers, naked, sick, bound, and so on; thus knowing what duty they owed toward one and toward another. But as before said these doctrinals perished, and with them the understanding of the Word, insomuch that no one at this day knows otherwise than that by the "poor," the "widows," and the "fatherless," in the Word, none other are meant than they who are so called; in like manner here by the "hungry," the "thirsty," the "strangers," the "naked," the "sick," and those who are "in prison;" when yet by these charity is described such as it is in its essence, and the exercise of it such as it must be in its life.


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