The Fifth Commandment
Enter into goodwill to thine adversary quickly while thou art in the way with him, lest at any time the adversary deliver thee up to the judge, and the judge deliver thee up to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Amen, I say to thee, Thou shalt not come out from there, until thou hast paid the last farthing.
AE 1015:3. ...To be delivered to the judge, and by the judge to the officer, and by him to be cast into prison, describes the state of the man who is in hatred after death from his having been in hatred against his brother in the world, “prison” meaning hell, and “to pay the last farthing” signifies the punishment that is called everlasting fire.
The Doctrine of the New Jerusalem concerning the Sacred Scripture, n. 67. It may now be illustrated by an example how spiritual and celestial angels draw their own sense from the natural sense, in which the Word is with men. Take as an example... the commandments of the Decalogue:
Honor thy father and thy mother. By “father and mother” a man understands his father and mother on earth, and all who stand in their place, and by to “honor” he understands to hold in honor and obey them. But a spiritual angel understands the Lord by “father,” and the church by “mother,” and by to “honor” he understands to love. And a celestial angel understands the Lord’s Divine love by “father,” and His Divine wisdom by “mother,” and by to “honor” to do what is good from Him...
SS 67:4. Thou shalt not murder. By “murdering,” a man understands also bearing hatred, and desiring revenge even to the death. A spiritual angel understands to act as a devil and destroy men’s souls. And a celestial angel understands to bear hatred against the Lord, and against what is His.
SS 67:6. ...Wonderful to say, the angels draw out their senses without knowing what the man is thinking about, and yet the thoughts of the angels and of the men make a one by means of correspondences, like end, cause, and effect....
The Doctrine of Life for the New Jerusalem from the Precepts of the Decalogue, n. 70. Now as evil and good are two opposite things, precisely as are hell and heaven, or as are the devil and the Lord, it follows that if a man shuns evil as sin, he comes into the good that is opposite to the evil. The good opposite to the evil that is meant by “murder” is the good of love toward the neighbor.
Life 72. When a man is no longer in the evil of murder, but in the good of love toward the neighbor, whatever he does is a good of this love, and therefore it is a good work. A priest who is in this good does a good work whenever he teaches and leads, because he acts from the love of saving souls. A magistrate who is in this good does a good work whenever he delivers a decision or a judgment, because he acts from the love of taking care of his country, of the community, and of his fellow-citizen. The same with a businessman: if he is in this good, everything of his business is a good work. There is in him the love of the neighbor; and his country, the community, his fellow-citizen, and also the members of his household, are the neighbor whose welfare he has care for in providing for his own. A workman also who is in this good, works faithfully from it, for others as for himself, fearing his neighbor’s loss as he would his own.
The reason why the doings of these men are good works, is that in proportion as anyone shuns evil, in the same proportion he does good, according to the general law stated above (n. 21), and he who shuns evil as sin, does good not from himself but from the Lord (n. 18–31).
The contrary is the case with him who does not regard as sins the various kinds of murder, which are enmities, hatred, revenge, and many more. Whether he is a priest, magistrate, businessman, or workman, whatever he does is not a good work, because every work of his partakes of the evil that is within him; for his internal is what gives it birth. The external may be good, but only as regards others, not as regards himself.
Questions and Thoughts for Reflection
- The Writings reveal that if a person dies still holding hatred for someone else, those two people will certainly meet after death; and his own hatred will cause the hater a lot of grief (AC 823, 2481–2, 5061, etc.). So it’s much better to be reconciled with those we hate, or if the other is unwilling or unable to be reconciled, at least not to hate him in our hearts, and enter into goodwill while on earth, rather than have to “pay the last farthing.”
- The doctrine of salvation by faith alone says that no one can do anything that is truly good, because every single one of our works is tainted with selfishness—seeking merit and reward, or hypocritical. But the Heavenly Doctrine teaches that so far as we shun evil as a sin against God, the opposite good love flows in from the Lord. Then our works are really good, not from our own goodness, but from the Lord’s love flowing into us and through us. It still feels like our own good, but we can know better and give all the credit to the Lord.