The Second Commandment

[This is taken from Emanuel Swedenborg's Spiritual Life and the Word of God.]

The Second Commandment


The second commandment is, “Thou shalt not profane the name of God.”

In the first place, what is meant by “the name of God” shall be told, and afterward what is meant by “profaning” it.  “The name of God” means every quality by which God is worshipped.  For God is in His own quality, and is His own quality.  His essence is Divine love, and His quality is Divine truth therefrom united with Divine good; thus with us on earth it is the Word; consequently it is said in John:

“The Word was with God, and the Word was God” (i. 1).

So, too, it is the doctrine of genuine truth and good from the Word; for worship is according to that.

Now as His quality is manifold, for it comprises all things that are from Him, so He has many names; and each name involves and expresses His quality in general and in particular.  He is called “Jehovah,” “Jehovah of Hosts,” “Lord,” “Lord Jehovah,” “God,” “Messiah (or Christ),” “Jesus,” “Saviour,” “Redeemer,” “Creator,” “Former,” “Maker,” “King,” and “the Holy One of Israel,” “the Rock” and “the Stone of Israel,” “Shiloh,” “Almighty,” “David,” “Prophet,” “Son of God,” and “Son of Man,” and so on.  All these names are names of the one God, who is the Lord; and yet where they occur in the Word they signify some universal Divine attribute or quality distinct from other Divine attributes or qualities.  So, too, where He is called “Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,” three are not meant, but one God; that is, there are not three Divines, but one; and this trine which is one is the Lord.

Since each name signifies some distinct attribute or quality, “to profane the name of God” does not mean to profane His name itself but His quality.  “Name” signifies quality for the reason that in heaven everyone is named according to his quality; and the quality of God or the Lord is everything that is from Him by which He is worshipped. For this reason, since no Divine quality of the Lord is acknowledged in hell the Lord cannot be named there; and in the spiritual world His names cannot be uttered by anyone except so far as His Divine is acknowledged; for there all speak from the heart, thus from love and consequent acknowledgment.  (A.E., n. 959.)

Since “the name of God” means that which is from God and which is God, and this is called Divine truth, and with us the Word, this must not be profaned, because it is in itself Divine and most holy; and it is profaned when its holiness is denied, which is done when it is despised, rejected, and treated contemptuously.  When this is done heaven is closed and man is left to hell.  For as the Word is the only medium of conjunction of heaven with the church, so when the Word is cast out of the heart that conjunction is dissolved; and because man is then left to hell he no longer acknowledges any truth of the church.

There are two things by which heaven is closed to the men of the church.  One is a denial of the Lord’s Divine, and the other is a denial of the holiness of the Word; and for this reason, that the Lord’s Divine is the all of heaven; and Divine truth, which is the Word in the spiritual sense, is what makes heaven; which makes clear that he who denies the one or the other denies that which is the all of heaven and from which heaven is and exists, and thus deprives himself of communication and consequent conjunction with heaven.  To profane the Word is the same as “blaspheming the Holy Spirit,” which is not forgiven to anyone, consequently it is said in this commandment that he who profanes the name of God shall not be left unpunished.  (A.E., n. 960.)

As Divine truth or the Word is meant by “the name of God,” and the profanation of it means a denial of its holiness, and thus contempt, rejection, and blasphemy, it follows that the name of God is interiorly profaned by a life contrary to the commandments of the Decalogue.  For there can be a profanation that is inner and not outer, and there can be a profanation that is inner and at the same time outer, and there can be also a kind of profanation that is outer and not at the same time inner.  Inner profanation is wrought by the life, outer by the speech.  Inner profanation, which is wrought by the life, becomes outer also, or of the speech, after death.  For then everyone thinks and wills, and so far as it can be permitted, speaks and acts, according to his life; thus not as he did in the world.  In the world man is wont [accustomed], for the world’s sake and to gain reputation, to speak and act otherwise than as he thinks and wills from his life.  This is why it has been said that there can be a profanation that is inner and not at the same time outer.  That there can be also a kind of profanation that is outer and not at the same time inner is possible from the style of the Word, which is not at all the style of the world, and for this reason it may be to some extent despised from an ignorance of its interior sanctity. (A.E., n.  962.)

He who abstains from profaning the name of God, that is, the holiness of the Word, by contempt, rejection, or any blasphemy, has religion; and such as his abstinence is such is his religion.  For no one has religion except from revelation, and with us revelation is the Word.  Abstinence from profaning the holiness of the Word must be from the heart, and not merely from the mouth.  Those who abstain from the heart live from religion; but those who abstain merely from the mouth do not live from religion, for they abstain either for the sake of self or for the sake of the world, in that the Word can be made to serve them as a means of acquiring honor and gain; or they abstain from some fear. But of these many are hypocrites who have no religion. (A.E., n. 963.)





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