It Is Not So Hard to Lead a Heaven-Bound Life as People Think It Is (Continued)

The laws of spiritual life, the laws of civil life, and the laws of moral life are handed down to us in the Ten Commandments. The first three commandments contain the laws of spiritual life, the next four the laws of civil life, and the last three the laws of moral life. Outwardly, purely natural people live by these same commandments just the way spiritual people do. They worship the Divine, go to church, listen to sermons, wear devout faces, do not kill or commit adultery or steal or bear false witness, do not cheat their colleagues of their goods. However, they behave this way solely in their own interest, in order to look good in the world. Inwardly, these same people are exactly the opposite of what they seem to be outwardly. Because at heart they deny the Divine, they play the hypocrite in their worship. In their private thinking they scoff at the holy rites of the church, believing that they serve only to restrain the simple masses.

This is why they are wholly cut off from heaven. So since they are not spiritual, they are not moral or civic people either; for even though they do not kill, they hate everyone who gets in their way and burn with vengefulness because of their hatred. So if they were not constrained by civil laws and the outward restraints exercised by their fears, they would kill. Because this is what they crave, it follows that they are constantly killing. Even though they do not commit adultery, still because they believe there is nothing wrong with it they are constantly adulterous, and actually do commit it as much as they can and as often as they have the opportunity. Even though they do not steal, still since they do covet other people’s assets and regard cheating and malicious devices as legally justifiable, they are constantly stealing in their minds. The same applies to the other commandments of moral life—not bearing false witness or coveting the goods of others. All who deny the Divine are like this, all who do not have some conscience based on religion. Their nature shows obviously in similar people in the other life when they are let into their inner nature after their outer nature has been stripped away. Since they are separated from heaven at that point, they act in unison with hell; so they keep company with the people who live there.

It is different for people who at heart have acknowledged the Deity and have attended to divine laws in the deeds of their lives, living both by the first three commandments of the Decalogue and by the others as well. When they are let into their inner nature, after their outer nature is stripped away, they are wiser than they were in the world. Coming into their inner natures is like coming from darkness into light, from ignorance into wisdom, from a sad life into a blissful one, because they are in the Divine and therefore in heaven. I have mentioned this to let it be known what each kind of person is like, though both may lead the same kind of outward life.

from Heaven and Hell, Section 531