THE TEN COMMANDMENTS >> Spiritual Laws >> Laws of Heaven

LA827_500_367 These propositions must now be examined and demonstrated one by one. First: The acknowledgment of God brings about the conjunction of God with man and of man with  God, and the denial of God causes their separation. Some may think that those who do not acknowledge God can be saved just as well as those who do, provided they lead a moral life. They say, What does acknowledgment accomplish? Is it not mere thought? Can I not easily acknowledge God when I know for certain that there is a God? I have heard of Him but I have not seen Him. Make me see Him and I will believe. Such is the language of many who deny God when they have an opportunity to reason freely with one who acknowledges God. However, that the acknowledgment of God conjoins and the denial of Him separates will be illustrated by some things made known to me in the spiritual world. In that world when anyone thinks about another and desires to converse with him, the other is immediately present. This is general there and never fails. The reason is that in the spiritual world there is no distance as in the natural world, but only an appearance of distance.

[2] Another fact is that as thought from some knowledge of another causes his presence so love from any affection for another causes conjunction with him. Thus it comes to pass that people go about and converse in a friendly way, live together in one house or in one society, frequently meet and render mutual services. The opposite also happens; thus he who does not love another, and still more, he who hates another, does not see or meet him; and the distance they are apart is according to the degree that love is wanting or hate is present. Indeed, should he come into the other's presence and remember his hatred he becomes invisible to him.

[3] From these few particulars it may be evident how presence and conjunction are brought about in the spiritual world; namely, that presence arises from recalling another with a desire to see him and that conjunction arises from an affection which springs from love. It is the same with all the things that are in the human mind. In it there are innumerable things and the several particulars are there associated and conjoined according to affections, or as one thing is attracted to another.

[4] This is spiritual conjunction, which is the same in general things and in particular things. This spiritual conjunction has its origin from the conjunction of the Lord with the spiritual world and with the natural world, in general and in particular. From this it is clear that so far as one knows the Lord and from this knowledge thinks about Him, so far the Lord is present; and so far as anyone acknowledges Him from an affection of love, so far the Lord is conjoined to him: but on the other hand, so far as anyone does not know the Lord so far the Lord is absent; and so far as anyone denies Him, so far is He separated from him.

[5] The result of conjunction is that the Lord turns a man's face to Himself and then leads him; while the result of separation is that hell turns a man's face to itself and leads him. Therefore all the angels of heaven turn their faces to the Lord as the Sun, and all the spirits of hell turn their faces away from the Lord. Hence it is evident what results from the acknowledgment of God, and what from the denial of Him. Those who deny God in the world deny Him after death, and they become organisms according to the description given above (n. 319); and the organisation induced in the world remains for ever.

[6] Second: Everyone acknowledges God and is conjoined to Him according to the good of his life. All can have a knowledge of God who know anything from religion. They can also speak of God from knowledge (scientia), that is, from what is in the memory, and some may also think about Him from the understanding. However, if one does not live well, this only brings about presence; for he can nevertheless turn himself away from God towards hell; and this happens if he lives wickedly. But only those can acknowledge God in their heart who live well; and these according to the good of their life the Lord turns away from hell and towards Himself. The reason is that these alone love God, for they love Divine things, which are from Him, in doing them. The Divine things which are from God are the precepts of His Law. These are God because He is His own Divine going forth: this is to love God, and therefore the Lord says:

He that keepeth my commandment, he it is that loveth me....But he that keepeth not my commandments loveth me not. John xiv. 21, 24.

[7] This is the reason why there are two tables of the Decalogue, one relating to God and the other relating to man. God works unceasingly that man may receive what is in his own table; but if man does not do the things that are in his table he does not receive with acknowledgment of heart the things that are in God's table; and if he does not receive them he is not conjoined. Therefore those two tables were so joined together as to be one, and were called the tables of the covenant, for covenant signifies conjunction. Everyone acknowledges God and is conjoined to Him according to the good of his life because the good of life is like the good that is in the Lord, and consequently that originates from the Lord. Therefore when man is in the good of life conjunction is effected. The contrary is the case with evil of life; for this rejects the Lord.

[8] Third: The good of life, that is, living well, is shunning evils because they are contrary to religion, thus contrary to God. That this is the good of life, or living well, is fully shown in THE DOCTRINE OF LIFE FOR THE NEW JERUSALEM, from beginning to end. To this I will merely add that if you do good to the fullest extent, for example, if you build churches, adorn them and fill them with votive offerings; if you expend money lavishly on hospitals and guest-houses for strangers, give alms daily, succour widows and orphans; if you diligently observe the holy things of worship, indeed, if you think about them, speak and preach about them as from the heart, and yet do not shun evils as sins against God, all those goods are not good. They are either hypocritical or meritorious, for there is still evil interiorly within them, since the life of everyone is in all things that he does, in general and in particular. Goods only become good by the removal of evil from them. Hence it is clear that shunning evils because they are contrary to religion, thus contrary to God, is living well.

[9] Fourth: These are the general principles of all religions by which everyone can be saved. To acknowledge God and to refrain from doing evil because it is against God are the two things which make religion to be religion. If one of them is wanting it cannot be called religion, since to acknowledge God and to do evil is a contradiction; so also is to do good and yet not acknowledge God, for one is not possible without the other. It has been provided by the Lord that almost everywhere there should be some form of religion, and that in every religion there should be these two principles; and it has also been provided by the Lord that everyone who acknowledges God and refrains from doing evil because it is against God should have a place in heaven. For heaven in the complex resembles one Man whose life or soul is the Lord. In that heavenly Man there are all things which are in a natural man with that difference which exists between things heavenly and things natural.

[10] It is well known that in man there are not only forms, organised from blood vessels and nerve fibres, called viscera, but also skins, membranes, tendons, cartilages, bones, nails and teeth, which have life in a less degree than the organised forms themselves which they serve as ligaments, coverings and supports. The heavenly Man, which is heaven, in order that all these things may be in it, cannot be composed of men all of one religion but of men of many religions. Therefore, all who make these two universal principles of the Church part of their life have a place in that heavenly Man, that is, heaven, and there enjoy happiness in their own degree. More on this subject may be seen above (n. 254).

[11] That these two are the primary principles in every religion may be evident from the fact that they are the two which the Decalogue teaches. The Decalogue was the principal constituent of the Word, and, promulgated by Jehovah by a living voice from Mount Sinai, was written upon two tables of stone by the finger of God. It was then placed in the ark and was called Jehovah, and constituted the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle, and formed the shrine in the temple at Jerusalem, and all the things there derived their sanctity from it alone. There are many more details from the Word concerning the Decalogue in the ark set forth in THE DOCTRINE OF LIFE FOR THE NEW JERUSALEM (n. 53-61), and to these I will add the following: It is well known from the Word that the ark containing the two tables on which the Decalogue was written was taken by the Philistines and placed in the temple of Dagon in Ashdod; and that Dagon fell to the earth before it, and afterwards his head with the palms of his hands torn from his body lay upon the threshold of the temple; and that the people of Ashdod and Ekron, to the number of many thousands, were smitten with emerods on account of the ark, and their land was ravaged by mice; also that the Philistines, on the advice of the chiefs of their nation, made five golden emerods and five golden mice, and a new cart on which they placed the ark with the golden emerods and mice beside it; and, drawn by two cows that lowed on the way before the cart, they sent the ark back to the Children of Israel; and by them the cows and the cart were offered up in sacrifice (see 1 Sam. V and VI).

[12] It will now be stated what all these things signified. The Philistines signified those who are in faith separated from charity. Dagon represented that form of religion. The emerods with which they were smitten signified natural loves which, when separated from spiritual love, are unclean, and the mice signified the devastation of the Church by the falsification of truth. The new cart on which they sent back the ark signified new but natural doctrine, for chariot in the Word signifies doctrine from spiritual truths, and the cows signified good natural affections. The golden emerods signified natural loves purified and made good, and the golden mice signified the vastation of the church ended by means of good, for gold in the Word signifies good. The lowing of the cows on the way signified the difficult conversion of the lusts of evil of the natural man into good affections, and the offering of the cows with the cart as a burnt offering signified that in this way the Lord was propitiated.

[13] This is what is spiritually meant by these things in This historical narrative. Connect them together in one sense and make the application. That the Philistines represented those who are in faith separated from charity may be seen in THE DOCTRINE OF THE NEW JERUSALEM CONCERNING FAITH (n. 49-54); and that the ark:, because the Decalogue was contained within it, was the most holy thing of the Church, may be seen in THE DOCTRINE OF LIFE FOR THE NEW JERUSALEM (n. 53-61). [DP 326]

That by "the words which God spake" are meant truths Divine for those in the heavens and those on the earth, is because the ten commandments, which are called the Decalogue, and the subsequent statutes promulgated and commanded from Mount Sinai, are such truths as are not only for those who are on the earth, but also for those who are in the heavens; for all the words, that is, all the truths which are from the Lord, are not only for men, but are also at the same time for the angels, since they come through heaven and thus pass over to earth. But in the heavens they do not sound as they do on the earth, for in the heavens they are in a spiritual form, but on the earth in a natural form. What is the nature of those things which are in a spiritual form as compared with those which are in a natural form, is evident from all the particulars of the Word in the internal sense and in the external sense. Those in the internal sense are spiritual, but those in the external sense, which is the sense of the letter, are natural. The latter have been accommodated to men on the earth, but the former to angels in the heavens.

[2] That such is the case can be seen from the fact that the Word has been sent, and thus has passed, from the Divine Itself through heaven to earth; and that when it comes to the earth it is truth accommodated to the human race, which is in earthly and bodily things; whereas in the heavens it is accommodated to angels, who are in spiritual and heavenly things. Such being the nature of the Word, it is holy in itself; for it contains in itself what is heavenly and Divine. This can be plainly seen from the ten commandments of the Decalogue. Everyone can see that these commandments are such things as have been known everywhere on the earth; as that parents are to be honored, that murder, adultery, and theft are not to be committed, and that no one should bear false witness; consequently that the Israelitish nation might have known these laws from natural light alone; for what nation is there which does not know them? And yet for their promulgation Jehovah Himself came down and promulgated them out of fire which burned even to the heart of heaven. From this it can be seen that these commandments contain in their bosom more things than appear in the letter, namely, such things as are at the same time for the heavens and that fill the heavens. All things of the Word are of this nature, because they are from the Divine. From this it is plain whence it is that the Word is holy, and what is meant by the Word's being inspired as to every jot and tittle, and as to every little horn (Matt. 5:18; Luke 16:17). The nature of the commandments of the Decalogue in the spiritual sense, that is, their nature in the heavens, shall accordingly be seen in what follows.  [AC 8862]


It is known that in the Word the Decalogue is called by way of eminence the Law, because it contains all things of Doctrine and life; for it contains both all things that look to God, and all things that look to man. For this reason the law was written on two tables, one of which treats of God, the other of man. It is also known that all things belonging to doctrine and life have reference to love to God and love towards the neighbor; and all things pertaining to these loves are contained in the Decalogue. That in the whole Word nothing else is taught can be seen from these words of the Lord:

Jesus said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God from all thy heart, and in all thy soul, and in all thy mind, and thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang the law and the prophets (Matt. 22:37, 39-40).

"The law and the prophets" signify the whole Word. And again:

A certain lawyer, tempting Jesus, said, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? And Jesus said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou? And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind, and thy neighbor as thyself. And Jesus said, This do, and thou shalt live (Luke 10:25-28).

Since then, love to God and love towards the neighbor are the whole of the Word, and the first table of the Decalogue contains in a summary all things pertaining to love to God, and the second table all things pertaining to love to the neighbor, it follows that the Decalogue contains all things of doctrine and life. From these two tables so regarded it is plain that they are connected in such a manner that God from His table looks to man, and man from his table in turn looks to God, thus the looking is reciprocal, that is, it is such that God on His part never ceases to look to man and to make operative such things as relate to man's salvation; and when man receives and does what is written on his table, a reciprocal conjunction is effected; and then comes to pass what the Lord said to the lawyer, "This do, and thou shalt live." [TCR 287]

In the Word "the law" is frequently mentioned; and what is meant by the law in a strict sense, in a broader sense, and in the broadest sense, shall now be told. In a strict sense the law means the Decalogue; in a broader sense it means the statutes given by Moses to the children of Israel, and in the broadest sense it means the whole Word.
That the law in a strict sense means the Decalogue, is well known. That the law in a wider sense means the statutes given by Moses to the children of Israel, is evident from the particular statutes, each of which in Exodus is called a "law;" as also [in Leviticus]:

This is the law of the guilt offering (Lev. 7:1).
This is the law of the sacrifice of peace offering (Lev. 7:7, 11).
This is the law of the meat offering (Lev. 6:14 seq.).
This is the law for the burnt offering, for the meat offering, and for the sin offering, and for the guilt offering, and for the consecrations (Lev. 7:37).
This is the law of the beast and of the fowl (Lev. 11:46 seq.)
This is the law for her that beareth, a son or a daughter (Lev. 12:7).
This is the law of leprosy (Lev. 13:59; 14:2, 32, 54, 57).
This is the law of him that hath an issue (Lev. 15:32).
This is the law of jealousy (Num. 5:29, 30).
This is the law of the Nazarite (Num. 6:13, 21).
This is the law of cleansing (Num. 19:14).
The law respecting the red heifer (Num. 19:2).
The law for the king (Deut. 17:15-19).

Indeed the whole book of Moses is called the law (Deut. 31:9, 11, 12, 26; likewise in the New Testament, as in Luke 2:22; 24:44; John 1:45; 7:22, 23; 8:5; and elsewhere).
That Paul, by the works of the law, means these statutes, where he says,
That a man is justified by faith apart from the works of the law (Rom. 3:28),
is clearly manifest from what there follows, as also from his words to Peter, whom he accuses of Judaizing, when he says three times in one verse,
That no man is justified by the works of the law (Gal. 2:14, 16).
That the law in the broadest sense means the whole Word, is plain from the following passages:
Jesus said, Is it not written in your law, Ye are Gods? (John 10:34).
This is written, Ps. 82:6.
The multitude answered, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth forever (John 12:34).
This is written Ps. 89:29; 110:4; Dan. 7:14.
That the Word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause (John 15:25).
This is written, Ps. 35:19.
The Pharisees said, Hath any of the rulers believed on Him but the crowd which knoweth not the law? (John 7:48-49).
It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one tittle of the law to fall (Luke 16:17).

The law here means the whole Sacred Scripture; also in a thousand places in David. [TCR 288]

In the spiritual and celestial senses the Decalogue contains universally all the precepts of doctrine and life, thus all things of faith and charity, because the Word in each and all things of the sense of the letter, or in general and in every part of it, conceals two interior senses, one called the spiritual sense and the other the celestial; also Divine truth in its light and the Divine good in its heat are in these two senses. And because the Word in general and in every part of it is so constituted, the ten commandments of the Decalogue must needs be explained according to these three senses, called the natural, the spiritual, and the celestial. That the Word is such can be seen from what has been shown above (n. 193-208), in the chapter on the Sacred Scripture or the Word.  [TCR 289]

Unless one knows the nature of the Word, he can have no idea that there is an infinity in every least particular of it, that is, that it contains things innumerable, which not even angels can exhaust. Each thing in it may be likened to a seed that is capable of growing up from the ground to a great tree and producing an abundance of seeds, from which again similar trees may be produced, these together forming a garden, and from the seeds of this other gardens, and so on to infinity. Such is the Word of the Lord in its least particulars, and such especially is the Decalogue; for this, because it teaches love to God and love towards the neighbor, is a brief summary of the whole Word. That such is the nature of the Word, the Lord also teaches by a similitude, thus:

The kingdom of God is like unto a grain of mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field; which indeed is less than all seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of heaven come and lodge in the branches thereof (Matt. 13:31, 32; Mark 4:31, 32; Luke 13:18, 19; compare also Ezek. 17:2-8);

That such is the infinity of spiritual seed or of truths in the Word, can be seen from angelic wisdom, which is all from the Word. This increases in the angels to eternity, and the wiser they become, the more clearly do they see that wisdom is without end, and perceive that they are merely in its outer court, and cannot in the smallest particular attain to the Lord's Divine wisdom, which they call a great deep. Since, then, the Word is from this great deep, because it is from the Lord, it is plain that there is a kind of infinity in every part of it.[TCR 290]


These are the words of the first commandment (Exod. 20:3; Deut. 5:7). In the natural sense, which is the sense of the letter, the meaning nearest the letter is that idols must not be worshiped; for there follows,

Thou shalt not make unto thee a graven image, nor any likeness that is in the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters under the earth; thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them nor worship them; for I Jehovah thy God am a jealous God (Exod. 20:4-5).

In the sense nearest the letter this commandment means that idols must not be worshiped, for the reason that before this time and after it down to the Lord's coming, idolatrous worship prevailed in a great part of Asia. The cause of this worship was that all churches before the Lord's coming were representative and typical; and these types and representations were such, that Divine things were set forth under various figures and sculptured forms; and when the meanings of these were lost the common people began to worship them as gods. That the Israelitish nation was also in this worship when in Egypt, is evident from the golden calf which they worshiped in the desert instead of Jehovah; and that afterwards they were not wholly alienated from that worship is evident from many passages both in the historical and in the prophetic Word. [TCR 291]

This commandment, "There shall be no other God in My presence" means also in the natural sense, that no man dead or living should be worshiped as a god. This, too, was done in Asia and in various surrounding countries. Many of the gods of the heathen were simply men, as Baal, Ashtaroth, Chemosh, Milcom, Beelzebub; and at Athens and Rome, Saturn, Jupiter, Neptune, Pluto, Apollo, Pallas, and so forth. Some of these were worshiped first as saints, then as divinities and finally as gods. That they also worshiped living men as gods, appears from the edict of Darius the Mede,

That for thirty days no man should ask anything from God, but from the king only; otherwise, he should be cast into a den of lions (Dan. 6:8-28).  [TCR 292]

In the natural sense, which is the sense of the letter, this commandment means also that no one except God, and nothing but what proceeds from God, is to be loved above all things, which also accords with the Lord's words (Matt. 22:35-37; Luke 10:25-28). For any person or thing that is loved above all things is God and is Divine to the one who so loves. For example, to one who loves himself or the world above all things, himself or the world is his God; and this is why such persons do not in heart acknowledge any God, and in consequence are conjoined with their like in hell, where all who love themselves and the world above all things are gathered.  [TCR 293]

The spiritual sense of this commandment is, that no other God than the Lord Jesus Christ is to be worshiped, because He is Jehovah, who came into the world and wrought the redemption without which neither any man nor any angel could have been saved. That there is no God beside Him, is evident from the following passages in the Word:

It shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for Him that He may deliver us; this is Jehovah; we have waited for Him, we will rejoice and be glad in His salvation (Isa. 25:9).
The voice of one that crieth in the desert, Prepare ye the way of Jehovah; make level in the wilderness a highway for our God. For the glory of Jehovah shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together. Behold, the Lord Jehovih cometh in strength; He shall feed His flock like a shepherd (Isa. 40:3, 6, 10, 11).
Surely God is in thee there is no God besides. Verily Thou art a God that hidest Thyself, O God of Israel the Savior (Isa. 45:14, 15).
Am not I Jehovah? and there is no God else besides Me; a just God and a Savior; there is none besides Me (Isa. 45:21, 22).
I am Jehovah; and besides me there is no Savior (Isa. 43:11; Hos. 13:4).
That all flesh may know that I Jehovah am thy Savior and thy Redeemer (Isa. 44:26; 45:16).
As for our Redeemer, Jehovah of Hosts is His name (Isa. 47:4, Jer 50:34).
O Jehovah, my Rock and my Redeemer (Ps. 19:14).
Thus saith Jehovah, thy Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, I am Jehovah thy God (Isa. 48:17; 43:14; 49:7; 54:8).
Thus said Jehovah, thy Redeemer, I am Jehovah that maketh all things alone by Myself (Isa. 44:24).
Thus said Jehovah, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer Jehovah of Hosts; I am the First, and I am the Last, and beside Me there is no God (Isa. 44:6).
Jehovah Of Hosts is His name, and the Holy One of Israel is thy Redeemer; the God of the whole earth shall He be called (Isa. 54:6, 8).
Though Abraham knoweth us not; and Israel doth not acknowledge us; Thou Jehovah art our Father, our Redeemer; from everlasting is Thy name (Isa. 63:18).
Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, God, Mighty, Father of eternity, Prince of peace (Isa. 9:6).
Behold the days come, that I will raise up unto David a righteous Branch, who shall reign a King and this is His name, Jehovah our Righteousness (Jer. 23:5-6; 33:15-16).
Philip said to Jesus, Lord, show us the Father. Jesus said unto him, he that seeth Me seeth the Father. Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? (John 14:8-10).
In Jesus Christ dwelleth all the fullness of Divinity bodily (Col. 2:9).
We are in the True, in Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Little children, keep yourselves from idols (1 John 5:20, 21).

From these passages it is very evident that the Lord our Savior is Jehovah Himself, who is at once Creator, Redeemer, and Regenerator. This is the spiritual sense of this commandment.  [TCR 294]

The celestial sense of this commandment is, that Jehovah the Lord is infinite, illimitable, and eternal; that He is omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent; that He is the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End, who was, is, and is to be; that He is love itself and wisdom itself, or good itself, and truth itself, consequently life itself; and thus the one only Being from whom all things are.  [TCR 295]

All who acknowledge and worship any other God than the Lord the Savior, Jesus Christ, who is Jehovah God Himself in human form, sin against this first commandment. Those also sin against it who persuade themselves of the actual existence of three Divine persons from eternity. For as they confirm themselves in that error, they become more and more natural and corporeal, and at length are unable to comprehend interiorly any Divine truth; and if they listen to it and accept it, they still defile it and cover it up with fallacies. They may therefore be compared to those who dwell in the lowest story or the cellar of a house, and in consequence hear nothing of the conversation of those who are in the second and third stories, because the floor above their heads keeps the sound from penetrating to them.

[2] The human mind is like a house of three stories, in the lowest of which are those who have confirmed themselves in favor of three Gods from eternity, while in the second and third stories are those who acknowledge and believe in one God under a visible human form, and that the Lord God the Savior is He. As the sensual and corporeal man is merely natural, and viewed in himself is wholly animal, and differs from a brute animal only in being able to talk and reason, so he is like one living in a menagerie, where there are all kinds of wild beasts, and there he now acts the lion, now the bear, now the tiger, the leopard, or the wolf; and he may even act the lamb, but then in heart he laughs.

[3] The merely natural man thinks of Divine truths only from the things of the world, and thus from the fallacies of the senses, for he is unable to raise his mind above these. Therefore the doctrine that he believes may be compared to a pottage made of chaff, which he eats as a dainty. Or it is like the bread and cakes that Ezekiel the prophet was commanded to make by mixing wheat, barley, beans, lentils, and fitches, with cow's or human excrement, thus representing the church as it was with the Israelitish nation (Ezek. 4:9 seq.). So is it with the doctrine of a church that is founded and reared upon a belief in three Divine persons from eternity, each one of whom singly is God.

[4] Who would not see the monstrosity of that faith if it were presented as it is in itself in a picture before his eyes? For example, if the three were to stand in order beside each other, the first distinguished by a scepter and crown; the second holding a book, which is the Word, in his right hand, and in his left a golden cross spattered with blood; the third, encircled with wings, standing upon one foot, ready to fly forth and do his work, and above the three the inscription-these three persons, being so many Gods, are one God. What wise man seeing the picture would not say to himself, "Alas, what hallucination!" But he would say otherwise if he were to see a picture of one Divine Person with rays of heavenly light about His Head and with the inscription over it, This is our God, at once Creator, Redeemer, and Regenerator, and therefore the Savior. Would not that wise man kiss this picture, carry it home in his bosom, and by the sight of it gladden his own mind, and the minds of his wife and his children and servants?  [TCR 296]



In the natural sense, which is the sense of the letter, to take the name of Jehovah God in vain means the name itself, and its abuse in various kinds of conversation, especially in false speaking or lying, and in useless oaths or oaths to exculpate one's self in evil intentions (that is, oaths with imprecations), also when employed in juggleries and incantations. But to swear by God and His holiness, by the Word or the Gospel, at coronations, inaugurations into the priesthood, and inductions into offices of trust, is not to take the name of God in vain, unless he who takes the oath afterwards discards his promises as vain. But the name of God, because it is holiness itself, must be used continually in the holy things pertaining to the church, as in prayers, psalms, and all worship, also in preaching, and in writing on ecclesiastical subjects. This is so because God is in all things of religion, and when He is solemnly invoked He is present through His name and hears. In such ways is the name of God hallowed. That the name of Jehovah God is in itself holy is evident from that name, in that the Jews since their earliest age have not dared and do not dare to utter the name Jehovah; and for their sake the writers of the Gospels and the apostles were unwilling to use it, and used the name Lord instead, as is evident from various passages transferred from the Old Testament into the New, where the name Lord is used instead of Jehovah (as in Matt. 22:37; Luke 10:27, compared with Deut. 6:5, and other passages). That the name of Jesus is in like manner holy is known from the saying of the Apostle that at this name every knee is bowed or should be bowed in heaven and on earth; and furthermore from this, that no devil in hell can utter that name. There are many names of God that must not be taken in vain, as Jehovah, Jehovah God, and Jehovah of Hosts; the Holy One of Israel, Jesus and Christ, and the Holy Spirit.  [TCR 297]

 In the spiritual sense, the name of God means everything which the church teaches from the Word, and by which the Lord is invoked and worshiped. All such things in the complex are the name of God. "To take the name of God in vain," means, therefore, to introduce any of these things into frivolous conversation, into false speaking, lying, imprecations, juggleries or incantations; for this too is reviling and blaspheming God, thus His name. That the Word and whatever the church has from it, and thus all worship, is the name of God, can be seen from the following passages:

From the rising of the sun My name shall be invoked (Isa. 41:25; 26:8, 13).
From the rising of the sun even unto the going down of the same, My name is great among the Gentiles; and in every place incense is offered unto My name. But ye profane My name in that ye say, 'The table of Jehovah is polluted; and ye snuff at My name, in that ye bring that which is torn, and the lame, and the sick (Mal. 1:11-13).'
All peoples walk each in the name of its God; but we, let us walk in the name of Jehovah our God (Micah 4:5).
They were to worship Jehovah in one place where He would place His name (Deut. 12:6, 11, 13, 14, 18; 16:2, 6, 11, 16, 18);
that is, where He would establish His worship.
Jesus said, Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them (Matt. 18:20).
As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become sons of God, even to them that believe in His name (John 1:12).
He that believeth not hath been judged already, because be hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God (John 3:18).
Those who believe shall have life in His name (John 20:31).
Jesus said, I have manifested Thy name to men and I have made known unto them Thy name (John 17:6, 26).
The Lord said, Thou hast a few names in Sardis (Apoc. 3:4);
besides many other passages in which, as in the foregoing, the "name of God" means the Divine that goes forth from God, and by which He is worshiped. But the name Jesus Christ means everything of redemption, and everything of His doctrine, and thus everything of salvation, "Jesus" meaning every thing of salvation through redemption, and "Christ" everything of salvation through His doctrine.  [TCR 298]

In the celestial sense, "to take the name of Gods vain means what the Lord said to the Pharisees:

Every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men, but blasphemy of the Spirit shall not be forgiven (Matt. 12:31, 32),

"blasphemy of the Spirit" meaning blasphemy against the Divinity of the Lord's Human, and against the holiness of the Word. That the Divine Human of the Lord is meant by the name of Jehovah God in the celestial or highest sense, is evident from the following passages:

Jesus said, Father, glorify Thy name. And there came a voice out of heaven, saying, I have glorified it, and will glorify it again (John 12:28).
Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son; if ye shall ask anything in My name, that I will do (John 14:13, 14).

In the Lord's Prayer,

Hallowed be Thy name (Matt. 6:9)

has the same meaning in the celestial sense. The same is true of "name" (Exod. 23:21; Isa. 63:16). As blasphemy of the Spirit is not forgiven unto men (according to the words in Matt. 12:31, 32), and as this is what is meant by this commandment in the celestial sense, it is added, "for Jehovah will not hold him guiltless who taketh His name in vain."  [TCR 299]

That the name of anyone means not his name alone but his every quality, is evident from the use of names in the spiritual world.
No man there retains the name he received in baptism, or that of his father or ancestry in the world; but everyone is there named according to his character, and angels are named according to their moral and spiritual life. Such are meant in these words of the Lord:

Jesus said, I am the Good Shepherd. The sheep hear His voice, and He calleth His own sheep by name and leadeth them out (John 10:11, 3).

Also in these words:

Thou hast a few names even in Sardis, that have not defiled their garments. He that overcometh, I will write upon him the name of the city New Jerusalem, and My new name (Apoc. 3:4, 12).

Gabriel and Michael are not the names of two persons in heaven, but by those names all in heaven who are in wisdom respecting the Lord, and who worship Him are meant. The names of persons and of places in the Word do not mean persons and places, but the things of the church. Nor in the natural world does a name mean the person's name only, but his character also, because this adheres to his name; for in common conversation it is customary to say, "This he does for the sake of his name," or "for the fame of his name," or "this man has a great name," meaning that he is celebrated, for such things as are in him, as for talents, erudition, merits, and so on. Who does not know that he who disparages and calumniates anyone in name, also disparages and calumniates the actions of his life? In idea the two are joined together, and the fame of his name is thus destroyed. In like manner one who utters the name of a king, a noble, or any great man, with great disrespect, also casts opprobrium upon his majesty and dignity. So again he who mentions the name of another in a tone of contempt, at the same time belittles the acts of his life. This is true of everyone. According to the laws of all kingdoms it is not lawful to sully and wound with slander anyone's name, that is, his character and consequent reputation.  [TCR 300]



This is the third commandment, as may be seen from Exod. 20:8-10, and Deut. 5:12-14. In the natural sense, which is the sense of the letter, it means that six days are for man and his labors, and the seventh for the Lord and rest for man from the Lord. In the original tongue Sabbath signifies rest. With the children of Israel the Sabbath, because it represented the Lord, was the sanctity of sanctities, the six days representing His labors and conflicts with the hells, and the seventh His victory over them, and consequent rest; and as that day was a representative of the close of the whole of the Lord's work of redemption, it was holiness itself. But when the Lord came into the world, and in consequence representations of Him ceased, that day became a day of instruction in Divine things, and thus also a day of rest from labors and of meditation on such things as relate to salvation and eternal life, as also a day of love towards the neighbor. That it became a day of instruction in Divine things is evident from this,

That on that day the Lord taught in the temple and in synagogues (Mark 6:2; Luke 4:16, 31, 32: 13:10)

And that He said to the man who was healed, Take up thy bed and walk and to the Pharisees that it was lawful for His disciples on the Sabbath day to pluck the ears of corn and eat (Matt. 12:1-9; Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-6; John 5:9-19), each of these particulars signifying in the spiritual sense instruction in doctrinals. That that day was made also a day of love towards the neighbor is evident from what the Lord did and taught on that day (Matt. 12:10-14; Mark 3:1-9; Luke 6:6-12; 13:10-18; 14:1-7; John 5:9-19; 7:22, 23; 9:14, 16).

From all this it is evident why the Lord said,

That He is Lord also of the Sabbath (Matt. 12:8; Mark 2:28; Luke 6:5);

and because He said this, it follows that that day was a representative of Him. [TCR 301]

In the spiritual sense, this commandment signifies man's reformation and regeneration by the Lord, "the six days of labor" signifying his warfare against the flesh and its lusts, and at the same time against the evils and falsities that are in him from hell, and "the seventh day" signifying his conjunction with the Lord, and regeneration thereby. That man's spiritual labor continues as long as that warfare lasts, but when he is regenerated he has rest, will be shown in what is to be said hereafter in the chapter on Reformation and Regeneration, especially under the following sections there:

(1) Regeneration is effected in a manner analogous to that in which man is conceived, carried in a womb, born, and educated
(2) The first act in the new birth is called reformation, which belongs to the understanding; and the second is called regeneration, which belongs to the will and therefrom to the understanding.
(3) The internal man is to be reformed first, and through that the external.
(4) Then a conflict arises between the internal and the external man, and the one that conquers rules the other.
(5) The regenerate man has a new will, and a new understanding; and so forth.

The reformation and regeneration of man are signified by this commandment in the spiritual sense, because they coincide with the labors and combats of the Lord with the hells, and with His victory over them, and the rest that followed. For the Lord reforms and regenerates man and renders him spiritual in the same manner in which He glorified His Human and made it Divine; and this is the meaning of the command to "follow Him." That the Lord had combats, which are called "labors," is evident from Isa. 53 and 58; and that like things are called "labors" in reference to men, from Isa. 65:23; Apoc. 51:2, 3. [TCR 302]

In the celestial sense, this commandment means conjunction with the Lord, followed by peace, because of protection from hell. For the Sabbath signifies rest, and in this highest sense, peace; therefore the Lord is called the Prince of Peace, and He also calls Himself "Peace," as is evident from the following passages:

Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulders; and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, God, Mighty, Father of eternity, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end (Isa. 9:6, 7).
Jesus said, Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you (John 14:27).
Jesus said, These things have I spoken unto you that in Me ye may have peace (John 16:33).
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; saying, Thy King reigneth (Isa. 52:7).
Jehovah will deliver my soul in peace (Ps. 55:18).
Jehovah's work is peace; and the labor of righteousness rest and security forever that My people may abide in a habitation of peace, and in tents of security, in quiet resting-places (Isa. 32:17. 18).
Jesus said to the seventy whom He sent forth, Into whatsoever house ye enter, first say, Peace be to this house; and if a son of peace be there, your peace shall rest upon him (Luke 10:6, 8; Matt. 10:12-14).
Jehovah will speak peace unto His people. Righteousness and peace have kissed each other (Ps. 85:8, 10).

When the Lord Himself appeared to His disciples, He said, Peace be unto you (John 20:19, 21, 28).
Moreover, the state of peace into which men are to come from the Lord is treated of in Isa. 65, 66 and elsewhere; and those will come into that state, who are received into the New Church which the Lord is establishing at this day. What peace is in its essence, which is the peace in which the angels of heaven and those who are in the Lord are, may be seen in the work on Heaven and Hell (n. 284-290). From all this it is also evident why the Lord called Himself "Lord of the Sabbath," that is, of rest and peace. [TCR 303]

Heavenly peace, which, in respect to the hells, is that evils and falsities shall not rise up from them and break forth, may be compared in many respects with natural peace; as with peace after war, when everyone is secure from enemies and is safe in his own city and home and living in his own fields and garden. This is as the prophet said when he spoke naturally of heavenly peace:

They shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig-tree, and none shall make them afraid (Micah 4:4; Isa. 65:21-23).
It may also be compared to recreations of mind and to rest after severe labor, and to the consolation felt by mothers after childbirth, when their parental love (called storge) manifests its delights. It may also be compared with serenity after tempests, black clouds, and thunders; also with spring, after a terrible winter has passed, and with the gladdening influences from the new growths in the fields and the blossoming in the gardens, meadows, and woods; and again with the state of mind experienced by those who, after storms and dangers on the sea, reach a port and set foot on the longed-for land [TCR 304]



So reads this commandment in Exod. 20:12; Deut. 5:16. In the natural sense, which is that of the letter, "to honor thy father and thy mother" means to honor parents, to be obedient to them, to be devoted to them, and to return thanks to them for the benefits they confer, which are that they provide food and clothing for their children, and so introduce them into the world that they may act in it as civil and moral persons; and introduce them also into heaven by means of the precepts of religion, thus providing both for their temporal prosperity and their eternal happiness. All this parents do from a love which they have from the Lord, in whose stead they act. In a relative sense it means that if parents are dead, guardians should be honored by their wards. In a broader sense, to honor the king and magistrates, is meant by this commandment, since these provide for all in general the necessities which parents provide in particular. In the broadest sense this commandment means that men should love their country, since it supports and protects them, therefore it is called fatherland from father. But to country, king, and magistrates honor must be rendered by parents and by them be implanted in their children. [TCR 305]

In the spiritual sense, "to honor father and mother" means to reverence and love God and the church. In this sense, God who is the father of all, is meant by "father" and the church by "mother." In the heavens little children and the angels know no other father and no other mother, since they are there born anew of the Lord through the church. Therefore the Lord says:

Call no man your father on the earth; for one is your Father, who is in the heavens (Matt. 23:9).

This was said with reference to children and angels in heaven, and not of children and men on earth. The Lord teaches the same thing in the common prayer of the Christian churches, "Our Father who art in the heavens, hallowed be Thy name." In the spiritual sense, "mother" means the church, because as a mother on earth nourishes her children with natural food; so does the church nourish her children with spiritual food, and this is why the church is frequently called "mother" in the Word, as in Hosea:

Plead with your mother; she is not my wife, and I am not her husband (2:2, 6).

In Isaiah:

Where is the bill of your mother's divorcement, whom I have put away? (50:1; Ezek. 16:46; 19:10).

And in the Gospels:

Jesus stretched forth His hand towards Ills disciples, and said, My mother and My brethren are these who hear the Word of God and do it (Matt. 12:48-50; Mark 3:33-36; Luke 8:21; John 19:25-27).  [TCR 306]

In the celestial sense, "father" means our Lord Jesus Christ, and "mother" the communion of saints, which means the Lord's church spread throughout the whole world. That the Lord is the Father, is evident from the following passages:

Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given. His name is God, Mighty, Father of eternity, Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6).
Thou art our Father; Abraham knoweth us not and Israel doth not acknowledge us; Thou art our Father, our Redeemer from everlasting is Thy name (Isa. 63:16).
Philip said, show us the Father; Jesus saith unto him, He that seeth Me seeth the Father; how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me (John 14:8-11; also 12:45).

That "mother" in this sense means the Lord's church, is evident from the following passages:

I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband (Apoc. 21:2).
The angel said to John, Come hither, I will show thee the bride, the wife of the Lamb; and he showed me the city, the holy Jerusalem (Apoc. 21:9, 10).
The time of the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready: Blessed are they that have been called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb (Apoc. 19:7, 9). (See also Matt. 9:15; Mark 2:19, 20; Luke 5:34, 36; John 3:29; 19:25-27.)

That "the New Jerusalem" means the New Church which the Lord is at this day establishing, may be seen in the Apocalypse Revealed (n. 880, 881); this church, and not the preceding, is the wife and the mother in this sense. The spiritual offspring which are born from this marriage are the goods of charity and the truths of faith; and those who are in these from the Lord, are called "sons of the marriage," "sons of God," and "born of God." [TCR 307]

It must he kept in mind that a Divine-heavenly sphere of love continually goes forth from the Lord toward all who embrace the doctrine of His church, who are obedient to Him, as children are to their father and mother in the world, who devote themselves to Him, and who wish to be fed, that is, instructed by Him. From this heavenly sphere a natural sphere arises, which is one of love towards infants and children. This is a most universal sphere, affecting not only men, but also birds and beasts and even serpents; nor animate things only, but also things inanimate. But that the Lord might operate upon these even as upon spiritual things, He created a sun to be in the natural world like a father, the earth being like a mother. For the sun is like a common father and the earth like a common mother from the marriage of which all the vegetation that adorns the surface of the earth is produced. From the influx of that heavenly sphere into the natural world, come the marvelous developments of vegetation from seed to fruit, and again to new seed. It is from this also that many kinds of plants turn, as it were, their faces to the sun during the day, and turn them away when the sun sets. It is from this also that there are flowers that open at the rising of the sun and close at his setting. It is from this also that the song-birds sing sweetly at the early dawn, and likewise after they have been fed by their mother earth. Thus do all these honor their father and mother. They all bear testimony that in the natural world the Lord provides through the sun and the earth all necessities both for animate and inanimate things. Therefore it is said in David:

Praise ye Jehovah from the heavens; praise ye Him, sun and moon; praise Him from the earth, ye dragons and all deeps; praise Him, fruitful trees and all cedars; beasts and all cattle; creeping things and flying fowl; kings of the earth and all peoples; young men and maidens (Ps. 148:1-12);

and in Job:

Ask, I pray, the beasts and they shall teach thee; or the fowls of the air, and they shall tell thee; or the shrub of the earth, and it shall teach thee; and the fishes of the sea shall declare unto thee. Who doth not know from all these things that the hand of Jehovah hath wrought this? (Job 12:7-9).

"Ask and they will teach," signifies to observe, study, and judge from these things that the Lord Jehovah created them. [TCR 308]


In the natural sense, this commandment "Thou shalt not kill" means not to kill a man, and not to inflict upon him any wound from which he may die, also not to maim his body. It means also not to inflict any deadly harm upon his name and fame, since with many fame and life go hand in hand. In a broader natural sense, murder means enmity, hatred, and revenge, which breathe slaughter; for in them murder lies concealed as fire in wood under ashes. Infernal fire is nothing else; hence the expressions, to be inflamed with hatred, to burn with revenge. These passions are murder in intention, not in act; but if fear of the law or of retaliation and revenge were removed from them, they would break forth into act, especially if there is treachery or ferocity in the intention. That hatred is murder, is evident from these words of the Lord:

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment. But I say unto you, that whosoever is angry with his brother rashly shall be in danger of the judgment. But whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council, and whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of the hell of fire (Matt. 5:21, 22).

This is because whatever pertains to the intention pertains also to the will, and so essentially to the deed. [TCR 309]

In the spiritual sense, murder means all modes of killing and destroying the souls of men, which modes are various and manifold, as for example, turning men away from God, religion, and Divine worship by insinuating scandalous thoughts against these, or by inducing such persuasions as cause aversion and even abhorrence. Such murderers are all the devils and satans in hell, with whom those in this world who violate and prostitute the sanctities of the church are in conjunction. Those who destroy souls by falsities are meant by the king of the abyss, who is called "Abaddon" or "Apollyon," that is, the Destroyer (Apoc. 9:11); and in the prophetic Word [those whom they destroy] are meant by "the slain," as in the following passages:

Thus said Jehovah God, Feed the flock of slaughter which their possessors have slain (Zech. 11:4-5, 7).
We are killed all the day long; we are counted as a flock for the slaughter (Ps. 44:22, 23).
Jacob shall cause them that come to take root. Is he slain according to the slaughter of them that are slain by him? (Isa. 27:6, 7).
The thief cometh not but to steal and to kill the sheep; I am come that they may have life and abundance (John 10:10).
(Besides elsewhere, as in Isa. 14:21; 26:21; Ezek. 37:9; Jer. 4:31; 12:3; Rev. 9:4, 5; 11:7.)

And therefore the devil is called:

A murderer from the beginning (John 8:44). [TCR 310]

In the celestial sense, to kill means to be rashly angry with the Lord, to hate Him, and to wish to blot out His name. It is said of such that they crucify the Lord, and this they would do, as the Jews did, if He were to come again into the world as before. This is meant by:

A Lamb standing as though it had been slain (Rev. 5:6; 13:8).

Also by the Lord's being crucified (Rev. 11:8; Heb. 6:6; Gal. 3:1). [TCR 311]

The nature of man's internal, unless it is reformed by the Lord, has been made evident to me from seeing the devils and satans in hell; for they have it constantly in mind to kill the Lord; and as they cannot do this they are in the endeavor to kill those who are devoted to the Lord; but not being able, as men are in the world, to do this, they make every effort to destroy their souls, that is, to destroy faith and charity in them. With such, essential hatred and revenge appear like lurid and glowing fires-hatred like a lurid fire, and revenge like a glowing fire-yet these are not fires, but appearances. The cruelties of their hearts sometimes appear above them in the air like contests with angels and their slaughter and overthrow. Such direful mockeries arise from their wrath and hatred against heaven. Moreover, at a distance, these same spirits appear like wild beasts of every kind, as tigers, leopards, wolves, foxes, dogs, crocodiles, and all kinds of serpents; and when they see gentle animals in representative forms, they rush upon them in fantasy and strive to tear them in pieces. They came to my sight like dragons standing near women with whom there were little children, whom they were endeavoring, as it were, to devour (according to what is recorded in the twelfth chapter of Revelation); but these were nothing else than representations of hatred against the Lord and His New Church. That men in the world who wish to destroy the Lord's church are like these spirits is not evident to their companions; and for the reason that their bodies, through which they practice the moralities, absorb and conceal these things. But to the angels, who behold their spirits and not their bodies, they appear in forms like those of the devils above described. Who could have known such things had not the Lord opened the sight of some one, and given him the ability to look into the spiritual world? Otherwise, would not these, together with other most important matters, have lain concealed from man for ever?  [TCR 312]


In the natural sense, this commandment means not only not to commit adultery, but it refers also to willing and doing obscene things and thinking and speaking about lascivious things. That merely to lust is to commit adultery, is evident from the Lord's words:

Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery. But I say to you, that everyone that looketh on another man's wife to lust after her, hath committed adultery with her already in his heart (Matt. 5:27, 28).

The reason of this is that when lust enters the will it becomes, as it were, deed; for allurement enters into the understanding only, but into the will, intention; and the intention of a lust is a deed. But more on this subject may be seen in the work on Marriage Love and Scortatory Love (Amsterdam, 1768), which treats, On the Opposition of Marriage to Scortatory Love (n. 423-443); On Fornication (n. 444-460); On Adulteries and the Different Kinds and Degrees of Adultery (n. 478-499); On the Lust of Defloration (n. 501-505); On the Lust for Variety (n. 506-510); On the Lust of Violation (n. 511, 512); On the Lust of Seducing Innocences (n. 513, 514); On the Imputation of Scortatory Love and of Marriage Love (n. 523-531). All of these things are meant by this commandment in the natural sense. [TCR 313]

In the spiritual sense, "to commit adultery" means to adulterate the goods of the Word and to falsify its truths. That "to commit adultery" means this also, has been hitherto unknown, because the spiritual sense of the Word has been hitherto concealed. That such is the meaning in the Word of "to commit adultery," "to adulterate," and "to commit whoredom" is evident from the following passages:

Run ye to and fro through the streets of Jerusalem, and seek if ye can find a man that executeth judgment, and seeketh the truth. When I had fed them to the full, they committed adultery (Jer. 5:1, 7).
In the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible stubbornness in adulterating and walking in a lie (Jer. 23:14).
They have wrought folly in Israel, and have committed whoredom, and have spoken My Word falsely (Jer. 29:23).
They committed whoredom, because they have left Jehovah (Hos. 4:10).
I will cut off the soul that turneth unto them that have familiar spirits and unto the wizards, to go a whoring after them (Lev. 20:6).
A covenant shall not be made with the inhabitants of the land, lest they go a whoring after their gods (Ex. 34:16).
Because Babylon adulterates and falsifies the Word more than others, she is called the great harlot, and it is said of her in the Apocalypse:
Babylon hath given all nations to drink of the wine of the anger of her fornication (Apoc. 14:8).
The angel said, I will show unto thee the judgment of the great harlot; with whom the kings of the earth committed whoredom (Apoc. 17:1, 2).
For He hath judged the great harlot that corrupted the earth with her whoredom (Apoc. 19:2).
Because the Jewish nation had falsified the Word, it was called by the Lord:
An adulterous generation (Matt. 12:39; 16:4; Mark 8:38); And the seed of the adulterer (Isa. 57:3).

There are many other passages where "adulteries" and "whoredoms" mean adulterations and falsifications of the Word (as in Jer. 3:6, 8; 13:27; Ezek. 16:15, 16, 26, 28, 29, 32, 33; 23:2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 14, 16, 17; Hos. 5:3; 6:10; Nahum 3:4).  [TCR 314]

In the celestial sense, "to commit adultery" means to deny the holiness of the Word, and to profane it. This meaning follows from the preceding spiritual meaning, which is to adulterate its goods and to falsify its truths. The holiness of the Word is denied and profaned by those who in heart ridicule all things of the church and of religion, for in the Christian world all things of the church and of religion are from the Word. [TCR 315]

There are many causes which make a man to seem chaste, not only to others but also to himself, when, in fact, he is wholly unchaste; since he does not know that when a lust occupies the will it is a deed and cannot be removed except by the Lord after repentance. A man is not made chaste by abstaining from doing, but by abstaining from willing because it is a sin when the doing is possible. Just so far as anyone abstains from adulteries and whoredoms, solely from fear of the civil law and its penalties; from fear of the loss of reputation and thus of honor; from fear of the diseases arising from them; from fear of the wife's upbraidings at home, and the consequent intranquillity of life; from fear of the vengeance of the husband and relatives, or of being beaten by their servants; or because of avarice, or any infirmity caused by disease or abuse or age or any other cause of impotence; even if he abstains on account of any natural or moral law, and not at the same time on account of spiritual law; he is nevertheless inwardly an adulterer and a fornicator. For he nonetheless believes that adulteries and whoredoms are not sins, and therefore he does not in his spirit make them unlawful before God; and thus in spirit he commits them, even if he does not commit them in the body before the world; and in consequence, when after death he becomes a spirit he speaks openly in favor of them. Furthermore, adulterers may be compared to covenant-breakers who violate compacts; also to the satyrs and priapi of the ancients, who roamed in forests, crying out, "Where are there virgins, betrothed maidens, and wives, to sport with?" Moreover, in the spiritual world adulterers actually appear like satyrs and priapi. They may also be compared to rank he-goats, or to dogs that run about the streets, looking about and smelling for female dogs to satiate their lasciviousness; and so on. When they become husbands their virility may be likened to the blossoming of tulips in spring, which in a month lose their flowers and wither. [TCR 316]


In the natural sense, this commandment means, according to its letter, not to steal or to rob or to commit piracy in time of peace; and in general, not to take away anyone's goods secretly or under any pretext. It also extends to all impostures and illegitimate gains, usuries, and exactions; and again to frauds in paying taxes and duties and in discharging debts. Laborers transgress this commandment when they do their work unfaithfully and deceitfully; merchants, when they practice deceit in their merchandise, in weight, in measure, and in their accounts; officers, when they deduct from the soldiers' wages; judges, when they give judgment for friendship, reward, relationship, or others reasons, preventing law and evidence, and so depriving others of the goods which they rightfully possess. [TCR 317]

In the spiritual sense, to steal means to deprive others of the truths of their faith, which is done by means of falsities and heresies. Priests, who minister solely for gain or from a lust for honor, and teach what they see or might see from the Word to be untrue, are spiritual thieves, since they take away from the people the means of salvation, which are the truths of faith. Such are called thieves in the Word, in the following passages:

He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. The thief cometh not but to steal, and to kill, and to destroy (John 10:1, 10).
Lay not up treasures upon earth, but in heaven, where thieves do not come and steal (Matt. 6:19, 20).
If thieves come to thee, if robbers by night, how art thou cut off; will they not steal what is enough for them? (Obad. verse 5).
They shall run to and fro in the city; they shall run upon the wall, they shall climb up upon the houses; they shall enter in at the windows like a thief (Joel 2:9).
They have committed falsehood, and the thief cometh in, and the troop spreadeth itself without (Hos. 7:1). [TCR 318]

 In the celestial sense, thieves mean those who take away from the Lord His Divine power; also those who claim for themselves His merit and righteousness. These, even if they adore God, still do not trust in Him but only in themselves, and also do not believe in God, but only in themselves. [TCR 319]

Those who teach what is false and heretical and persuade the common people that it is true and orthodox, although they read the Word, and from it may know what is false and what is true, also those who by fallacies confirm falsities of religion and seduce men thereby, may be compared to impostors and their impostures of all kinds; and because such impostures are in the spiritual sense essentially thefts, such persons may be compared to counterfeiters who strike false coins and gild them or give them outwardly the color of gold, and pass them for pure coins; then again to those who know how to cut and polish crystals skillfully and harden them, and who sell them for diamonds; also to men who carry apes or monkeys, clothed like men and with veiled faces on horses or mules through cities, and proclaim that these are noblemen of an ancient stock. They are also like those who put on false faces smeared with paints of various colors, over the living and natural face, concealing its beauty; and they are also like men who exhibit selenite and mica, which shine as if from gold and silver, and try to sell them as coming from veins that are very precious. They may also be likened to those who by theatricals lead men away from true Divine worship, or from churches to playhouses. Those who establish all kinds of falsity, regarding truths as of no moment, and who discharge priestly functions solely for gain and a lust for honor, being thus spiritual thieves, may be likened to those thieves who carry keys wherewith they can open the door of any house; also to leopards and eagles, that with sharp eyes search for the fattest prey.  [TCR 320]


"Bearing false witness against the neighbor," or testifying falsely, means, in the natural sense nearest to the letter, to act the part of a false witness before a judge, or before others not in a court of justice, against one who is rashly accused of any evil, and to support the accusation by the name of God or anything else that is holy or by one's personal influence and the strength of his personal reputation. In a wider natural sense this commandment forbids all kinds of lies and hypocrisies in civil life which look to an evil end; also traducing and defaming the neighbor, to the injury of his honor, name, and fame, on which the man's whole character depends. In the widest natural sense, the commandment forbids plots, cunning devices, and premeditated evils against anyone, which spring from various sources, as enmity, hatred, revenge, envy, emulation, and the like. For these evils conceal within them the bearing of false witness. [TCR 321]

 In the spiritual sense, "bearing false witness" means to persuade that falsity of belief is true belief and evil of life is good of life, and the reverse, doing this from purpose, not from ignorance; that is, doing this after one has learned what is true and good, not before; for the Lord says:

If ye were blind, ye would have no sin; but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth (John 9:41).

In the Word this kind of falsehood is called a "lie" and the intent is called "deceit," as in the following passages:

We have made a covenant with death, and with hell we have made vision, for we have made a lie our trust, and in falsehood have we hid ourselves (Isa. 28:15).
This is a rebellious people, lying sons, they will not hear the law of Jehovah (Isa. 30:9).
From the prophet even unto the priest everyone worketh a lie (Jer. 8:10).
The inhabitants speak a lie, their tongue is deceitful in their mouth (Micah 6:12).
Thou wilt destroy them that speak a lie; Jehovah abhorreth the man of deceit (Ps. 5:6).
They have taught their tongue to speak a lie; their habitation is in the midst of deceit (Jer. 9:5, 6).

Because a "lie" means what is false, the Lord says:

That when the devil speaketh a lie, he speaketh from his own (John 8:44).

("A lie" signifies what is false, and false speaking, in the following places also: Jer. 23:14, 32; Ezek. 13:6-9; 21:29; Hos. 7:1; 12:1; Nahum 3:1; Ps. 120:2, 3).  [TCR 322]

In the celestial sense, bearing false witness means blaspheming the Lord and the Word, thus banishing truth itself from the church; for the Lord is the Truth itself, as likewise the Word. On the other hand, to bear witness in this sense, means to speak the truth, and testimony means the truth itself. For this reason the Decalogue is called the "testimony" (Exod. 25:16, 21, 22; 31:7, 18; 32:15, 16; 40:20; Lev. 16:13; Num. 17:4, 7, 10). And because the Lord is the truth itself, He says of Himself, that He bears witness,
That the Lord is the very truth (John 14:6; Rev. 3:7, 14);

And that He bears witness, and witnesses of Himself (John 3:11; 8:13-19; 15:26; 18:37, 38). [TCR 323]

Those who speak falsities from deceit or purposely, uttering them in a tone imitative of spiritual affection (and still more if they mingle with them truths from the Word, which are thus falsified), were by the ancients called sorcerers (on whom see the Apocalypse Revealed, n. 462), also pythons, and serpents of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. These falsifiers, liars, and deceivers may be likened to men who talk to those they hate in a bland and friendly manner, and while talking hold behind them a dagger with which to kill. They may also be likened to those who poison their swords and thus attack their enemies; or to those who mix hemlock with water, or who poison with wine and sweetmeats. They may also be likened to handsome and seductive harlots infected with venereal diseases; to stinging shrubs, which when brought near to the nostrils, hurt the olfactory fibers; to sweetened poisons; and also to ordure, which when dried emits in autumn a fragrant odor. Such are described in the Word by leopards (see the Apocalypse Revealed, n. 572).[TCR 324]




In the catechisms now in use, this commandment is divided into two, one forming the ninth, which is, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house;" and the other the tenth, which is, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor anything that is thy neighbor's." As these two commandments constitute one thing, and in Exod. 20:17; Deut. 5:21, one verse, I have undertaken to treat of the two together; not wishing them to be joined together as one commandment, but rather that as heretofore they be kept separate as two, since the commandments are called (in the Hebrew) the Ten Words (Ex. 34:28; Deut. 4:13; 10:4). [TCR 325]

These two commandments have relation to all the preceding ones, and teach and enjoin not only that evils must not be done, but also that they must not be lusted after, consequently that evils pertain not solely to the external man, but also to the internal; since he who refrains from doing evils and yet lusts to do them, still does them. For the Lord says:

If anyone lusts after another's wife, he has committed adultery with her already in his heart (Matt. 5:27, 28);

and the external man becomes internal, or acts as one with the internal, only when lusts have been removed. This also the Lord teaches, saying:

Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees; for ye cleanse the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess. Thou blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup and platter, that the outside may be clean also (Matt. 23:25, 26).

And the same is taught throughout that chapter. The internals which are Pharisaical, are lusts after the things that are forbidden to be done in the first, second, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth commandments. It is known that when the Lord was in the world, He taught the internal things of the church, and these internal things are not to lust after evils; and He so taught in order that the internal and external man may make one. This is the being born anew, of which the Lord spoke to Nicodemus in the third chapter of John; and no man can be born anew or be regenerated, and consequently become internal, except from the Lord. That these two commandments may have relation to all the preceding ones, inasmuch as the things forbidden therein are not to be lusted after, the house is first mentioned, after the wife, then the manservant, maidservant, ox, and ass, and lastly, everything that is the neighbor's. For the house involves all that follows, since it includes the husband, wife, manservant, maidservant, ox and ass. Again, the wife, who is next mentioned, involves all that follows; for she is the mistress as the husband is the master in the house; the manservant and maidservant are beneath these, the ox and the ass beneath the latter, and last of all come all things that are below or without, which means everything that is the neighbor's. Evidently therefore, in these two commandments all the preceding, both in general and in particular, are regarded, both in a broad and a restricted sense. [TCR 326]

In the spiritual sense, these two commandments forbid all lusts that are contrary to the spirit, thus all that are contrary to the spiritual things of the church, which relate chiefly to faith and charity; for unless lusts are subdued, the flesh let loose would rush into every wickedness. For it is known from Paul,

That the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh (Gal. 5:17);

and from James:

Each man is tempted by his own lust when he is enticed; then the lust, when it hath conceived, beareth sin; and sin, when it is completed, bringeth forth death (James 1:14, 15);

again from Peter,

That the Lord reserves the unrighteous unto the day of judgment, to be punished; but chiefly them that walk after the flesh in lust (2 Peter 2:9, 10).

In short, these two commandments understood in the spirit sense relate to all things that have before been presented in the spiritual sense, that they must not be lusted after; so likewise, to all that has been before presented in the celestial sense; but to repeat all these things is unnecessary. [TCR 327]

The lusts of the flesh, the eye, and the other senses, separated from the lusts, that is, from the affections, the desires, and the delights of the spirit, are wholly like the lusts of beasts, and consequently are in themselves beastlike. But the affections of the spirit are such as angels have, and therefore are to be called truly human. For this reason, so far as anyone indulges the lusts of the flesh, he is a beast and a wild beast; but so far as one satisfies the desires of the spirit, he is a man and an angel. The lusts of the flesh may be compared to shriveled and dried up grapes and to wild grapes; but the affections of the spirit to juicy and delicious grapes, and also to the taste of the wine that is pressed from them. The lusts of the flesh may be compared to stables where there are asses, goats, and swine; but the affections of the spirit to stables where there are noble horses, and sheep and lambs; and they differ as an ass and a horse, a goat and a sheep, a lamb and a pig; in general, as dross and gold, as limestone and silver, as coral and rubies, and so on. Lust and the deed are connected like blood and flesh, or like flame and oil; for lust is within the deed, as air from the lungs is in breathing or in speaking, or as wind in the sail when the vessel is in motion, or as water on the wheel that gives motion and action to machinery. [TCR 328]


In eight of the commandments of the decalogue, the first, second, fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, and tenth, there is nothing said of love to God and love toward the neighbor; since it is not said that God should be loved, that His name should be hallowed, that the neighbor should be loved and consequently that he should be dealt with sincerely and uprightly. It is only said, "Thou shalt have no other God before Me;" "Thou shalt not take the name of God in vain;" "Thou shalt not kill;" "Thou shall not commit adultery;" "Thou shalt not steal;" "Thou shalt not bear false witness;" "Thou shalt not covet what belongs to thy neighbor;" that is in general, that evil, either against God or the neighbor, is not to be cherished in will or thought, nor to be done. The reason why such things as relate directly to love and charity are not commanded, but only such things as are opposed to them are forbidden, is that so far as man shuns evils as sins, so far does he will the goods that pertain to love and charity. That the prime thing of love to God and the neighbor is not to do evil, and the second to do good, will be seen in the chapter on Charity. [2] There are two opposite loves, the love of desiring and doing good, and the love of desiring and doing evil; this latter is infernal and the other is heavenly; for all hell is in the love of doing evil, and all heaven in the love of doing good. Since then, man is born into all kinds of evil, and therefore from birth inclines to what pertains to hell, and since he cannot enter heaven unless he is born again or regenerated, it is necessary that evils, which belong to hell, should be removed before he can desire goods, which are heavenly. For no one can be adopted by the Lord until he is separated from the devil. But how evils are removed and man is brought to do good, will be shown in the two chapters, on Repentance, and on Reformation and Regeneration. [3] That evils must be put away, before the good that a man does becomes good in the sight of God, the Lord teaches in Isaiah:

Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; [cease to do evil], learn to do well, then though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool (Isaiah. 1:16-18).

The following, in Jeremiah, is similar:

Stand in the gate of Jehovah's house, and proclaim there this Word, Thus said Jehovah of Hosts, the God of Israel, Amend your ways and your doings; trust ye not in lying words, saying, The temple of Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah, the temple of Jehovah, is this [that is, the church]. Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear through falsehood, and then come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, and say, We are delivered, when ye are doing all these abominations? Is this house become a den of robbers? Behold, even I have seen it, saith Jehovah (7:2-4, 9-11).

[4] That before washing or purification from evils prayer to God is not heard is also taught in Isaiah:
Jehovah saith, Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, they have gone away backward. When ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you; yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear (1:4, 15).

That love and charity follow when by shunning evils what is commanded in the Decalogue is done is evident from the Lord's words in John:

Jesus said, He that hath My commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father; and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him: and We will make our abode with him (14:21, 23).

By commandments here the commandments of the Decalogue are particularly meant, which are that evils must not be done or lusted after, and that the love of man to God and the love of God toward man then follow as good follows when evil is removed. [TCR 329]

 It has been said that so far as man shuns what is evil he wills what is good. This is so because evils and goods are opposites; for evils are from hell and goods from heaven; therefore so far as hell, that is, evil, is removed, so far heaven approaches and man looks to good. That this is so is very manifest from the eight commandments of the Decalogue when so viewed; thus, (i.) So far as one refrains from worshiping other gods, so far he worships the true God. (ii) So far as one refrains from taking the name of God in vain, so far he loves what is from God. (iii.) So far as one refrains from the wish to commit murder, or to act from hatred and revenge, so far he wishes well to his neighbor. (iv. ) So far as one refrains from a wish to commit adultery, so far he wishes to live chastely with a wife. (v.) So far as one refrains from a wish to steal, so far he pursues sincerity. (vi.) So far as one refrains from a wish to bear false witness, so far he wishes to think and say what is true. (7 and 8) So far as one refrains from coveting what belongs to the neighbor, so far he wishes the neighbor to enjoy his own. From all this it is evident that the commandments of the Decalogue contain all things of love to God and love towards the neighbor. Therefore Paul says:

He that loveth another, hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to the neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law (Rom. 13:8-10).

To this must be added two canons for the service of the New Church: (i.) That no one can of himself shun evils as sins and do good that is good in the sight of God; but that so far as anyone shuns evils as sins, so far he does good, not of himself, but from the Lord. (ii.) That man ought to shun evils as sins and to fight against them as if of himself; but if one shuns evils for any other reason than because they are sins he does not shun them, but only prevents their appearance before the world. [TCR 330]

Good and evil cannot exist together, and so far as evil is put away good is regarded and felt as good, for the reason that there exhales from everyone in the spiritual world a sphere of his love which spreads itself round about and affects, and causes sympathies and antipathies. By these spheres the good are separated from the evil. That evil must be put away before good can be recognized, perceived, and loved, may be compared to many things in the natural world; for example: one cannot visit another who keeps a leopard and a panther shut up in his chamber (himself living safely with them because he feeds them), until those wild beasts have been removed. [2] Who that is invited to the table of a king and queen does not before he goes wash his hands and face? Or who enters the bridal chamber with his bride after marriage before he has washed himself wholly, and clothed himself with wedding garments? Who does not purify ores by fire, and separate the dross, before he obtains the pure gold and silver? Who does not separate the tares from the wheat before putting it into his granary? Who does not thresh the bearded chaff from his barley, before he gathers it into his house? [3] Who does not skim off raw meat in cooking before it becomes eatable and placed upon the table? Who does not beat the worms from the leaves of the trees in his garden, lest the leaves be devoured and the fruit thereby destroyed? Who does not dislike dirt in his chambers and halls, and cleanse them, especially when a prince or the espoused daughter of a prince is expected to arrive? Who loves and wishes to marry a maiden who is full of disease, and covered with pimples and blotches, however she may paint her face, dress splendidly, and labor by the charms of her conversation to move him by the enticements of love?

[4] Man himself ought to purify himself from evils, and not wait for the Lord to do this without his cooperation. Otherwise he would be like a servant going to his master, with his face and clothes befouled with soot and dung, and saying, "Master, wash me." Would not his master say to him, "You foolish servant, what are you saying? See, there are water, soap, and a towel; have you not hands of your own and the power to use them? Wash yourself." So will the Lord God say, "These means of purification are from Me, and your ability to will and do are also from Me; therefore use these My gifts end endowments as your own, and you will be purified;" and so on. That the external man is to be cleansed, but by means of the internal the Lord teaches in the twenty-third chapter of Matthew from beginning to end. [TCR 331]

Author: EMANUEL SWEDENBORG  (1688-1772)


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