Page:A Compendium of the Theological Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg.djvu/288

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There is not a nation in the whole world which does not know that it is evil to kill, to commit adultery, to steal, and to testify falsely; and that if these evils were not guarded against by laws, the kingdom, republic, or established order of society of whatever form would perish. Who then can conceive that the Israelitish nation was so senseless beyond others that it did not know that those things were evil? One may therefore wonder that these laws, universally known in the world, should be so miraculously promulgated from mount Sinai by Jehovah Himself. But listen: they were thus miraculously promulgated, that they might know these laws are not only civil and moral laws, but also Divine laws; and that to act contrary to them is not only to do evil against the neighbour, that is against the citizen and against society, but is also to sin against God. Therefore these laws, by their promulgation from mount Sinai by Jehovah, were made also laws of religion. It is evident that whatever Jehovah commands, He commands that it be a matter of religion, and thus that it be done for the sake of salvation. But before the commandments are explained something shall be premised concerning their holiness, that it may be manifest that religion is in them.

Because the commandments of the decalogue were the first-fruits of the Word,[1] and therefore the first-fruits of the church that was about to be established with the Israelitish nation, and because they were in a brief summary a complex of all things of religion, by which the conjunction is effected of God with man and of man with God, therefore they were so holy that there is nothing holier. That they are most holy is evidently manifest from the following facts: That the Lord Jehovah Himself descended upon Mount Sinai in fire and with angels, and therefrom promulgated them by the living voice, and that the mountain was hedged about lest any should draw near and die. That neither the priests nor the elders approached, but Moses only. That these commandments were written upon two tables of stone by the finger of God. That when Moses brought the tables down the second time his face shone. That the tables

  1. See Note, p. 257.