“Peace has in it confidence in the Lord: that He directs all things, provides all things, and that He leads to a good end.” - Arcana Caelestia §8455
Kempton New Church

Week 5
Day 4


The Lost Son, concluded

Luke 15:25–32

But his elder son was in the field; and as he came and was near the house, he heard music and dancing.

And he called for one of the boys, and inquired what these things meant. And he said to him, Thy brother has come, and thy father has slaughtered the fatted calf, because he has received him safe and sound.

And he was angry, and was not willing to enter in; therefore his father came out and implored him. And he answering said to the father, Behold, so many years do I serve thee, and I never transgressed thy commandment, and yet thou never gavest me a goat, that I might be merry with my friends; but when this thy son came, who devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast slaughtered for him the fatted calf.

And he said to him, Child, thou art always with me, and all mine are thine. And we ought to be merry and rejoice, because this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

Retaliation versus forgiveness

AE 556:8. All things whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, even so do ye to them; this is the Law and the Prophets (Matt. 7:12; Luke 6:31).

Because this is the law in heaven, and from heaven in the church, therefore every evil carries with it a corresponding punishment, which is called the punishment of evil, and it is in the evil as if joined with it. And from this springs the punishment of retaliation which was prescribed for the sons of Israel, because they were external and not internal men. Internal men, as the angels of heaven are, do not wish the retaliation of evil for evil, but from heavenly charity they forgive freely. For they know that the Lord protects all who are in good from the evil, and that He protects them according to the good with them, and that He would not protect them if, on account of the evil done to them, they should burn with enmity, hatred, and revenge, for these drive away protection.


AC 3063. Love is itself turned to mercy and becomes mercy when anyone who is in need of help is regarded from love or charity. Hence mercy is the effect of love toward the needy and miserable.

AC 6180. All mercy is of love; for he who is in love or charity is also in mercy, and the love and charity in him become mercy when the neighbor is in need or misery, and he affords him help in that state. Hence it is that by “mercy” is signified the good of love.

SD 2420. Among all the things I have been allowed to learn from experience and from life with spirits and angels is this, that those who are merciful in the life of the body and exercise even only a little mercy from the heart, receive in the other life an inestimable, thus inexpressible reward: namely, happiness. For all happiness comes through mercy, because it is from mercy. And they receive so much mercy in all things down to the very least, with the fullest sensation, together with happiness, that it is inexpressible.

There is no mercy apart from means

HH 522. But first let us consider what the Divine mercy is. The Divine mercy is pure mercy towards the whole human race, to save it; and it is also unceasing towards every man, and is never withdrawn from anyone; so that everyone is saved who can be saved. And yet no one can be saved except by Divine means, the means which the Lord reveals in the Word. The Divine means are what are called Divine truths, which teach how man must live in order to be saved. By these truths the Lord leads man to heaven, and by them He implants in man the life of heaven. The Lord does this for all. But the life of heaven can be implanted in no one unless he abstains from evil, for evil obstructs. So far, therefore, as man abstains from evil, he is led by the Lord out of pure mercy by His Divine means, and this from infancy to the end of his life in the world and afterwards to eternity. This is what is meant by the Divine mercy. And from this it is evident that the mercy of the Lord is pure mercy, but not apart from means; that is, it does not look to saving all out of mere good pleasure, no matter how they may have lived.

HH 523. The Lord never does anything contrary to order, because He Himself is Order. The Divine truth that goes forth from the Lord is what constitutes order; and Divine truths are the laws of order. It is in accord with these laws that the Lord leads man. Consequently, to save man by mercy apart from means would be contrary to Divine order, and what is contrary to Divine order is contrary to the Divine. Divine order is heaven in man, and man has perverted this in himself by a life contrary to the laws of order, which are Divine truths. Man is brought back into this order by the Lord out of pure mercy by means of the laws of order. And so far as he is brought back into this order, he receives heaven in himself. And he that receives heaven in himself enters heaven.

This again makes evident that the Lord’s Divine mercy is pure mercy, and not mercy apart from means.

Questions and Comments
  1. AE 556:8 says that enmity, hatred and revenge drive away the protection from evil that the Lord offers. The elder son in this parable seems to be a helpful description of this so that we can watch out for it in ourselves. If we find ourselves hoping for another person to “get what is coming” rather than forgiving freely like angels, then this parable can help us.
  2. What does it mean for the Lord’s mercy not to be apart from means?
  3. What would happen if the Lord’s mercy was apart from means?
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