410. Since charity itself has its seat in the internal man, wherein it is willing well, and from that is in the external man, wherein it is well-doing, it follows that the internal man is to be loved, and from that the external; consequently that a man is to be loved according to the quality of the good that is in him. Therefore good itself is essentially the neighbor. This may be illustrated thus: When one selects for himself from among three or four a steward for his house, or a servant, does he not try to find out about his internal man, and choose one who is sincere and faithful, and for that reason love him? In like manner a king or magistrate from three or four persons would select one competent for office, and would refuse the incompetent, whatever his looks, or however favorable his speech and actions.
 Since, then, every man is the neighbor, and the variety of men is infinite, and everyone is to be loved as a neighbor according to his good, it is plain that there are genera and species and also degrees of love to the neighbor. And because the Lord is to be loved above all things, it follows that the degrees of love towards the neighbor are to be measured by love to the Lord, that is, by how much of the Lord or of what is from the Lord the other possesses in himself; for thus far he possesses good, since all good is from the Lord.
 But as these degrees are in the internal man, and the internal man rarely manifests itself in the world, it is sufficient that the neighbor be loved according to the degrees that are known. But after death these degrees are clearly perceived; for the affections of the will and the consequent thoughts of the understanding form a spiritual sphere round about those in the spiritual world, which is felt in various ways; while in this world this spiritual sphere is absorbed by the material body, and encloses itself within a natural sphere, which then flows forth from man. That there are degrees of love towards the neighbor, is plain from the Lord's parable of the Samaritan who showed mercy to the man wounded by thieves, whom the priests and the Levite saw and passed by; and when the Lord asked which of those three seemed to have been the neighbor, He was answered,
He who showed mercy (Luke 10:30-37).