Category — Attribution of goods and truths to oneself
“Thou shalt not steal.” (Exodus 20:15)
All the Ten Precepts of the Decalogue look to the universal reigning of the Divine Human in all things of man’s love and faith, in all the good and true with man, in all things of his will and understanding. If this end is not with us in the keeping of the Precepts, then they become with us a mere moral and civil code, less than they are with the gentiles. The goods which are commanded in these Precepts are the Lord’s. They are the goods which He made receptible to men when He fought and suffered to glorify His Human. The evils forbidden in these precepts are the evils which prevent the reception of the goods and trues of the Divine Human in the mind of man. They prevent the Lord’s reigning universally in the goods and trues in the love and faith with man. For this cause alone they are sins against God. The man of the Church should hot think of these Precepts in any other way. If the man of the Church does think of these Precepts in any other way, and we must face the fact that often we do think of them in another way, then it is because the thought is influenced by one or another of the evils forbidden in them.
Of the seventh Precept, “Thou shalt not steal,” it is said in the Arcana Coelestia: “Thou shalt not steal, signifies that his spiritual goods must not be taken away from anyone, and that those things which are the Lord’s must not be attributed to self.” (Arcana Coelestia 8905.)
Looked at from a merely natural viewpoint, the evil of theft does not appear as bad as the evil of murder or of adultery. But it is said in the Word that this evil enters more deeply into man than other evils, because it is conjoined with cunning and deceit. (Doctrine of Life 81.) It is a colder crime, in which the understanding of a man is closely involved. There is a conscious use of the false in this evil. There are two great evils with men from which all others spring, the love of commanding all things from the love of self, and the love of possessing all things from the love of the world. One is of the love of evil, and the other of the love of the false.
Looking from the outside inwards, the love of the world is a lesser evil than the love of self, the love of possessing is a lesser evil than the love of commanding all things, the false is lesser than the evil. But if we regard things as they proceed from within towards the outside, then we can see that there is a love of possessing all things which originates from the love of commanding all things, there is a love of the world which is out of the love of self, and there is the false which is out of evil. And these are more developed, hardened, confirmed forms of those terrible evils, and are deeper. In this series, the false is worse than the evil. The false is the last refuge of the evil, and it is the very stronghold of the evil in the human mind. From this stronghold the evil can win back to itself the whole mind by its cunning and deceit. In this we can see that the latter Commandments forbid evil ‘and false things which are worse than the things forbidden in the former.
“Thou Shalt Not Steal”
We read: “Amen, amen, I say unto you, he that entereth not by the door into sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before Me are thieves and robbers. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill and to destroy. I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10: 1, 7-10)
All goods and truths which a man has from the Word and the Church out of his own will and his own understanding are stolen things, in which the Lord is not present, and which therefore lack an internal. Wherefore we read: “If the rational is consulted the Doctrine becomes null and void.” Unless a man has given up the life of his proprial will and understanding he always consults his rational, and then ail things from the Word and from the Doctrine of the Church are with him stolen things, an external without an internal.
Do we not see with every man, that strong tendency to steal. In churches generally, we see an effort to increase the Church in numbers, power and prestige, by appealing to the proprial will and understanding of men and women. Appeals are made to the natural affections, and the intel-lect is flattered. Or where this is not done, threats and anathema, are used to inspire fear, fear of hell, and fear of losing the pleasures of heaven. Let us not think that we are free of such dangers.
We are told that the devils are not averse to worshipping God the Father, but they are averse to the Lord in His Divine Human. The Father is the Lord the Creator, the Divine Human is the Lord the Redeemer. Man is not averse to acknowledging God the Creator, but he is, by hereditary nature, averse to acknowledging the Lord the Redeemer, for he is averse to Redemption. He is not willing, from his proprium, to acknowledge that, “A total damnation stands before the door and threatens.” The door of both his will and understanding, for he trusts in the rationality he has from creation and in his instinctive good feelings, which he has from birth. To give up trust in these is to give up his life, and this he does not easily do.
There is an expression commonly used, “appealing to a man’s better instincts,” such an expression implies a climbing up some other way like a thief and a robber, and not entering through the door, that is the Lord Who is the door. The man of the Most Ancient Church did indeed have human instincts by creation, instincts of love into Good and towards his neighbor, for he was born into the order of his life. We are not born into the order of our life, and if we appeal to man’s better instincts, we climb up some other way, and come to apparent goods and truths, which are only externals without internals. Man’s internals are formed by innocence from the Lord, and a man cannot be in innocence from the Lord unless he believes, that it is solely by the Lord’s undergoing temptation in him, and by His overcoming and subjugating the hells which rule in him, that he can be saved. The moment a man loses this perception he is a thief and steals.
Every young man and woman is given gifts from the Lord: the young man particularly, a kind of youthful understanding of truth, an enthusiasm for it, and a youthful ideal of usefulness.
But the young man begins to steal the understanding of the truths he has been given and make them favor himself, and his own ends. He loses the innocence of youth, and thus the internal is stolen away. He must then look to the Lord for a new understanding in which there can be formed a new good of innocence, and must repent of his theft.