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The Divine Word
[This is taken from Emanuel Swedenborg's Spiritual Life and the Word of God.]
I. The Holiness of the Word
It was said of old that the Word is from God, Divinely inspired, and thus holy; and yet it has not been known heretofore where in the Word the Divine is. For the Word appears in the letter like a common writing in a foreign style, and a style not so sublime or so lucid as appears in the writings of the present ages. For this reason a man who worships nature more than God, or in place of God, and thus thinks from himself and what is his own (proprium), and not from the Lord out of heaven, can easily fall into error respecting the Word, and into contempt for it, saying in his heart when he reads it, What is this, or what is that? Is this Divine? Can God who has infinite wisdom speak in this manner? Where is its holiness, and from what source, unless from the religion whose ministers it serves? and other like things. But that it may be known that the Word is Divine, not only in every meaning but also in every expression, its internal sense, which is spiritual, and which is in its external sense, which is natural, as a soul in its body, has now been revealed. This sense can bear witness to the Divinity and consequent holiness of the Word; and can convince even the natural man that the Word is Divine if he is willing to be convinced. (A.E., n. 1065.)
In brief, the Word is Divine truth itself, which gives wisdom to angels and enlightens men. As Divine truth goes forth from the Lord, and as what goes forth is Himself out of Himself, the same as light and heat go forth from the sun and are the sun, that is, are of the sun out of it, and as the Word is Divine truth, it is therefore the Lord, as it is called in John (i. 1-3, 14). In as much as Divine truth, which is the Word, in its descent into the world from the Lord, has passed through the three heavens, it has become accommodated to each heaven, and lastly to men also in the world. This is why there are in the Word four senses, one outside of the other from the highest heaven down to the world, or one within the other from the world up to the highest heaven. These four senses are called the celestial, the spiritual, the natural from the celestial and spiritual, and the merely natural. This last is for the world, the next for the lowest heaven, the spiritual for the second heaven, and the celestial for the third. These four senses differ so greatly from one another that when one is exhibited beside the other no connection can be recognized; and yet they make one when one follows the other; for one follows from the other as an effect from a cause, or as what is posterior from what is prior; consequently as an effect represents its cause and corresponds to its cause, so the posterior sense corresponds to the prior; and thus it is that all four senses make one through correspondences.
From all this these truths follow. The outmost sense of the Word, which is the sense of the letter, and the fourth in order, contains in itself the three interior senses, which are for the three heavens. These three senses are unfolded and exhibited in the heavens when a man on the earth is reverently reading the Word. Therefore the sense of the letter of the Word is that from which and through which there is communication with the heavens, also from which and through which man has conjunction with the heavens. The sense of the letter of the Word is the basis of Divine truth in the heavens, and without such a basis Divine truth would be like a house without a foundation; and without such a basis the wisdom of the angels would be like a house in the air. It is the sense of the letter of the Word in which the power of Divine truth consists. It is the sense of the letter of the Word through which man is enlightened by the Lord, and through which he receives answers when he wishes to be enlightened. It is the sense of the letter of the Word by which everything of doctrine on the earth must be established. In the sense of the letter of the Word is Divine truth in its fullness. In the sense of the letter of the Word Divine truth is in its holiness. (A.E., n. 1066.)
That the Word is Divine truth itself, which gives wisdom to angels and enlightens men, can be perceived or seen only by a man enlightened. For to a worldly man, whose mind has not been raised above the sensual sphere, the Word in the sense of the letter appears so simple that scarcely anything could be more simple; and yet Divine truth, such as it is in the heavens and from which angels have their wisdom, lies concealed in it as in its sanctuary. For the Word in the letter is like the adytum [sanctum] in the midst of a temple covered with a veil, within which lie deposited mysteries of heavenly wisdom such as no ear hath heard. For in the Word and in every particular of it there is a spiritual sense, and in that sense a Divine celestial sense, which regarded in itself is Divine truth itself, which is in the heavens and which gives wisdom to angels and enlightenment to men.
The Divine truth that is in the heavens is light going forth from the Lord as a Sun, which is Divine love. And as the Divine truth that goes forth from the Lord is the light of heaven, so it is the Divine wisdom. It is this that illuminates both the minds and the eyes of angels, and it is this also that enlightens the minds of men, but not their eyes, and that enables them to understand truth and also to perceive good when man reads the Word from the Lord and not from self; for he is then a participator with angels, and has an inward perception like the spiritual perception of angels; and that spiritual perception which the angel-man has flows into his natural perception which is his own while in the world and enlightens it. Consequently the man who reads the Word from an affection for truth has enlightenment through heaven from the Lord. (A.E., n. 1067.)
Since the Word is Divine truth, and this goes forth from the Lord’s Divine Esse (being), as light from the sun, it follows that the Lord is the Word because He is Divine truth. The Lord is the Word, because He is Divine truth, and this goes forth His Divine Esse (being), which is Divine love, because the Divine love was in Him when in the world as a soul is in its body; and as Divine truth goes forth from Divine love as light goes forth from the sun, as has been said, so the Lord’s Human in the world was Divine truth going forth from the Divine love that was in Him. That the Divine itself, which is called “Jehovah” and the “Father,” and which is the Divine love, was in the Lord from conception, is evident in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. In Matthew from these words:
When Mary the mother of Jesus had been betrothed to Joseph, “before they came together she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.” And the angle said to Joseph in a dream, “Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit” . . . This came to pass that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet: . . . “Behold a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son.” And Joseph “knew her not until she had brought forth her firstborn son; and he called His name Jesus” (i. 18-25).
And in Luke from these words:
The angel said to Mary, “Behold thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call His name Jesus; He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Most High.” . . . Then Mary said unto the angel, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee; wherefore also the Holy Thing that shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God” (i. 30-35).
It was because He was conceived of Jehovah that He is so frequently called in the Word “the Son of God,” and Jehovah is called His “Father.” Jehovah in respect to His Esse (being) is Divine love, and in respect to His Existere (outgo) He is Divine good united to Divine truth.
From this it can be seen what is meant by:
The Word that was with God and that was God, and also was the light that enlighteneth every man (John i. 1-10), namely, that it was Divine truth going forth from the Lord, thus the Lord in respect to His Existere (outgo). That the Lord in respect to His Existere was Divine truth, and that this was His Divine Human, because this came forth from His Divine Esse as a body from its soul, these words in John clearly certify:
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father (i. 14).
“The Word” is the Divine truth, which also is “glory”; “flesh” means the Divine Human; “the only begotten of the Father” means the springing forth or going forth from the Divine Esse in Him. (A.E., n. 1069.)
But as the world does not know how the words in John (i. 1, 2, 14) that the Lord is the Word, are to be understood, this shall be further explained. It is known in the church that God is good itself and truth itself, and thus that all the good that an angel has and that a man has is from God, and likewise all truth. Now since the Lord is God He is also Divine good and Divine truth; and this is what is meant by “the Word, that was with God, and was God,” and also was “the light that enlighteneth every man,” and that also “became flesh,” that is, Man in the world.
That when the Lord was in the world He was the Divine truth, which is the Word, He Himself teaches in many passages where He calls Himself “the Light,” also where He calls Himself “the Way, the Truth, and the Life”; and where He says that “the Spirit of truth” goes forth from Him. “The Spirit of truth” is the Divine truth. When the Lord was transfigured He represented the Word, “His face that shone as the sun” represented its Divine good; and His garments, which were “bright as the light” and “white as snow,” represented its Divine truth. “Moses and Elijah,” who then talked with the Lord, also signified the Word, “Moses” the historical Word and “Elijah” the prophetic Word. Moreover, all things of the Lord’s passion represented the kind of violence that the Jewish nation offered to the Word. Again, the Lord from Divine truth, which He is, is called “God,” “King,” and “Angel,” and is meant by “the rock in Horeb,” and “the rock” where Peter is spoken of. All this makes clear that the Lord is the Word, because He is Divine truth. The Word in the letter, which is with us, is the Divine truths in outmosts. (A.E., n. 1070.)
As it cannot but transcend the comprehension that the Lord in relation to His Human in the world was the Word, that is, Divine truth; according to these words in John,
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father” (i. 14), it shall be explained, as far as possible, to the comprehension. It can be said of every regenerate man that he is his own truth and his own good, since the thought which belongs to his understanding is from truths, and the affection which belongs to his will is from goods. Whether you say, therefore, that a man is his own understanding and his own will, or that a man is his own truth and his own good, it amounts to the same thing. The body is mere obedience; for it speaks that which man thinks from the understanding, and does that which he wills from affection. Thus these things and the body mutually correspond and make one, like an effect and its effecting cause; and these taken together constitute the human.
As it can be said of the regenerate man that he is his own truth and his own good, so it can be said of the Lord as Man, that He is truth itself or Divine truth, and good itself or Divine good. All this makes evident the truth that the Lord in relation to His Human in the world was Divine truth, that is the Word; and that everything that He then said was Divine truth, which is the Word; and that since the time when he went to the Father, that is, became one with the Father, the Divine truth going forth from Him is the Spirit of truth, which goes out and goes forth from Him, and at the same time from the Father in Him. (A.E., n. 1071.)
That the Word is holy and Divine from inmosts to outermosts is not evident to the man who leads himself, but is evident to the man whom the Lord leads. For the man who leads himself sees only the external of the Word, and forms his opinion of it from its style; but the man whom the Lord leads forms his opinion of the external of the Word from the holiness that is in it.
The Word is like a garden, that may be called a heavenly paradise, in which are delicacies and charms of every kind, delicacies from the fruits, and charms from the flowers; and in the middle of it trees of life, and near them fountains of living water, and round about trees of the forest, and near them rivers. The man who leads himself forms his opinion of that paradise, which is the Word, from its circumference, where the trees of the forest are; but the man whom the Lord leads forms his opinion of it from the middle of it, where the trees of life are. The man whom the Lord leads is actually in the middle of it, and looks to the Lord; but the man who leads himself actually sits down at the circumference, and looks away from it to the world.
Again, the Word is like fruit within which there is a nutritious pulp, and in the middle of it seed vessels, in which inmostly is a living germ that germinates in good soil. Again, the Word is also like a most beautiful infant, about which, except the face, there are wrappings upon wrappings; the infant itself is in the inmost heaven, the wrappings are in the lower heavens, and the general covering of the wrappings is on the earth. As the Word is such it is holy and Divine from inmosts to outermosts. (A.E., n. 1072.)
The Word is such because in its origin it is the Divine itself that goes forth from the Lord, and is called Divine truth; and when this descended to men in the world it passed through the heavens in their order according to their degrees, which are three; and in each heaven it was recorded in accommodation to the wisdom and intelligence of the angels there. Finally it was brought down from the Lord through the heavens to men, and there it was recorded and made known in adaptation to man’s understanding and apprehension. This, therefore, is the sense of its letter, and in this lies Divine truth such as it is in the three heavens, stored up in distinct order.
From this it is clear that the entire wisdom of the angels in the three heavens has been imparted by the Lord to our Word, and in its inmost there is the wisdom of the angels of the third heaven, which is incomprehensible and ineffable to man, because full of mysteries and treasures of Divine verities. These lie stored up in each particular and in all the particulars of our Word. And as Divine truth is the Lord in the heavens, so the Lord Himself is present, and may be said to dwell in all the particulars and each particular of His Word, as He does in His heavens; and in the same way as He has said of the ark of the covenant, in which were deposited only the Ten Commandments written on the two tables, the first-fruits of the Word, for He said that He would speak there with Moses and Aaron, that He would be present there, that He would dwell there, and that it was His holy of holies, and His dwelling place as in heaven. (A.E., n., 1073.)
As the Divine truth, in passing from the Lord Himself through the three heavens down to men in the world, is recorded and becomes the Word in each heaven, so the Word is a bond of union of the heavens with each other, and a bond of union of the heavens with the church in the world. For the Word is the same everywhere, differing only in perfection of glory and wisdom according to the degrees in which the heavens are; consequently the holy Divine from the Lord flows in through the heavens into the man in the world who acknowledges the Lord’s Divine and the holiness of the Word whenever he reads the Word; and so far as such a man loves wisdom he can be instructed and can imbibe wisdom from the Word as from the Lord Himself, or from heaven itself, and can thus be nourished with the food with which the angels themselves are nourished, and in which there is life; according to these words of the Lord:
“The words that I speak unto you are spirit and are life” (John vi. 63). “The water that I will give you shall become . . . a fountain of water springing up unto eternal life” (John iv. 14). “Man doth not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt. iv. 4). “Work . . . for the meat that abideth unto eternal life, which the Son of man shall give unto you” (John vi. 27).
Such is the Word. (A.E., n. 1074.)
It has been said that the Divine truth goes forth from the Lord, and that the Word is from that, and that through the Word angels and men have wisdom. But so long as it is unknown how Divine truth goes forth from the Lord, this may be said but it cannot be understood. Divine truth, which is the same as Divine wisdom, goes forth from the Lord as light and heat do from the sun. The Lord is Divine love itself, and love appears in the heavens from correspondence as fire, and the Lord’s Divine love as a sun, glowing and resplendent like the sun of the world. From that sun, which is high above the heavens where the angels are, and which is Divine love, heat and light go forth; the heat therefrom is Divine good, and the light therefrom is Divine truth. The heat is Divine good, because all heat of life going forth from love is felt as good, for it is spiritual heat; and the light is Divine truth because all light going forth from love is felt as truth, for it is spiritual light; consequently it is from that light that the understanding sees truths, and it is from that heat that the will is sensible of goods; and this is why in the Word love is meant by heavenly fire and wisdom by heavenly light.
It is the same with a man and with an angel. Every angel and man is his own love, and a sphere flowing out from his love encompasses every man and angel. That sphere consists of the good of his love and of the truth of his love, for love gives forth both, as fire gives forth both heat and light; from the will of a man or angel it gives forth good, and from his understanding it gives forth truth. This sphere, when the man or angel is good, has an extension into the heavens in every direction according to the character and amount of the love, and into the hells in every direction when the man or angel is evil. But the sphere of the love of a man or an angel has a finite extension into a few societies only of heaven or hell, while the sphere of the Lord’s love, being Divine, has an infinite extension, and creates the heavens themselves. (A.E., n. 1076.)
The Word of the Lord is wonderful in this respect, that in every particular of it there is a reciprocal union of good and truth, which testifies that the Word is the Divine that goes forth from the Lord, which is Divine good and Divine truth reciprocally united; and also testifies that in the Word there is a marriage of the Lord with heaven and the church, which also is reciprocal. There is a marriage of good and truth, also of truth and good, in every particular of the Word, in order that it may be a source of wisdom to angels and of intelligence to men, for from good alone no wisdom or intelligence is born, neither from truth alone, but from their marriage when the love is reciprocal. This reciprocal love the Lord sets forth in John:
“He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood abideth in Me and I in him” (vi. 56).
In the same,
“In that day ye shall know, that . . . ye are in Me and I in you. He that hath My commandments and doeth them, he it is that loveth Me; . . . and I will love him” (xiv. 20, 21).
The reciprocality is that such are in the Lord and the Lord is in them, also that whoever loves the Lord, the Lord also will love him. “To have His commandments” is to be in truths, and “to do them” is to be in good.
Reciprocality is also described by the Lord in His union with the Father, in these words,
“Philip, . . . How sayest thou, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father and the Father in Me? . . . Believe Me, that I am in the Father and the Father in Me” (John xiv. 9-11).
From this reciprocal union of the Divine and the Human in the Lord the reciprocal union of Divine good and Divine truth goes forth; and this goes forth from the Lord’s Divine love; and the same is true of the Lord’s reciprocal union with heaven and the church, and in general the reciprocal union of good and truth in an angel of heaven and in a man of the church. And as good is of charity and truth is of faith, and as charity and faith make the church, it follows that the church is in a man when there is a reciprocal union of charity and faith in him. Again, as good is of the will and truth is of the understanding, and as the will and understanding make man, it follows that a man is a man according to the union of the will and all things belonging to it with the understanding and all things belonging to it, and this reciprocally. This union is what is called marriage, which from creation is in every particular of heaven and in every particular of the world; and from this is the production and the generation of all things. That in every particular of the Word there is such a marriage that good loves truth and truth loves good, thus mutually and in turn, is disclosed in the spiritual sense of the Word; and it is from this marriage that good and truth are one and not two, and are one when good is of truth and truth is of good. (A.E., n. 1077).
The Word in the sense of the letter appears very simple, and yet there is stored up in it the wisdom of the three heavens, for each least particular of it contains interior and more interior senses; an interior sense such as exists in the first heaven, a still more interior sense such as exists in the second heaven, and an inmost sense such as exists in the third heaven. These senses are in the sense of the letter, one within the other, and are evolved therefrom one after the other, each from its own heaven, when the Word is read by a man who is led by the Lord. These interior senses differ in a degree of light and wisdom according to the heavens, and yet they make one by influx, and thus by correspondences. How they thus make one shall be told in what follows. All this makes clear how the Word was inspired by the Divine, and that it was written from an inspiration to which nothing else in the world can in anywise be compared. The mysteries of wisdom of the three heavens contained in it are the mystical things of which many have spoken. (A.E., n. 1079.)
It has been said that there is a Word in each heaven and that these Words are in our Word in their order, and that they thus make one by influx and consequent correspondences. Here, therefore, it shall be told what correspondence is and what influx is; otherwise what the Word is inwardly in its bosom, thus in respect to its life from the Lord, which is its soul, cannot be understood.
But what correspondence is and what influx is shall be illustrated by examples. The changes of the face that are called expressions correspond to the affections of the mind; consequently the face changes in respect to its expressions just as the affections of the mind change in respect to their states. These changes in the face are correspondences, as consequently the face itself is; and the action of the mind into it, that the correspondences may be exhibited, is called influx. The sight of man’s thought, which is called the understanding, corresponds to the sight of his eyes; and consequently the quality of the thought from the understanding is made evident by the light and flame of the eyes. The sight of the eye is a correspondence, as consequently the eye itself is; the action of the understanding into the eye, by which the correspondence is exhibited, is influx. Active thought, which belongs to the understanding, corresponding to speech, which belongs to the mouth. The speech is a correspondence, likewise the mouth and everything belonging to it, and the action of thought into speech and into the organs of speech is influx. The perception of the mind corresponds to the smell of the nostrils. The smell and the nostrils are correspondences, and the action is influx. For this reason a man who has interior perception is said to have a keen nose, and perceiving a thing is called scenting it out. Hearkening, which means obedience, corresponds to the hearing of the ears; consequently both the hearing and the ears are correspondences, and the action of obedience into the hearing, that a man may raise his ears and attend, is influx; therefore hearkening and hearing are both significative, hearkening and giving ear to anyone meaning to obey, and hearkening and hearing anyone meaning to hear with the ears. The action of the body corresponds to the will, the action of the heart corresponds to the life of the love, the action of the lungs, which is called respiration, corresponds to the life of the faith, and the whole body in respect to all its members, viscera, and organs, corresponds to the soul in respect to all the functions and powers of its life.
From these few examples it can be seen what correspondence is and what influx is; and that when the spiritual, which belongs to the life of man’s understanding and will, flows into the acts which belong to his body, it exhibits itself in a natural effigy, and there is correspondence; also that thus the spiritual and the natural act as one by correspondences, like interior and exterior, or like prior and posterior, or like the effecting cause and the effect, or like the principal cause which belongs to man’s thought and will, and the instrumental cause which belongs to his speech and action. There is such a correspondence of natural things and spiritual not only in each and every thing of man, but also in each every thing of the world; and the correspondences are produced by an influx of the spiritual world and all things of it into the natural world and all things of it. From all this it can be seen in some measure how our Word, as to the sense of the letter, which is natural, makes one by influx and correspondences with the Words in the heavens, the senses of which are spiritual. (A.E., n. 1080.)
What the Word is in respect to influx and correspondences can now be shown. It is said in John:
“He hath blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they should see with their eyes and understand with their heart, and should turn themselves and I should heal them” (xii. 40).
The “eyes” that are blinded signify the understanding of truth and belief in it; the “heart” that is hardened signifies the will and love of good; and “to be healed” signifies to be reformed. They were not permitted “to turn themselves and be healed” lest they should commit profanation; for a wicked man who is healed and who returns to his evil and falsity commits profanation; and so it would have been with the Jewish nation. In Matthew:
“Blessed are your eyes, for they see; and your ears, for they hear” (xiii. 16).
Here, too, the “eyes” signify the understanding of truth and belief in it; so “to see” signifies to understand and believe, and the “ears” signify obedience, thus a life according to the truths of faith, and “to hear” signifies to obey and live. For one is blessed not because he sees and hears, but because he understands, believes, obeys, and lives.
In the same,
“The lamp of the body is the eye; if the eye be sound the whole body is light, if the eye be evil the whole body is darkened. If, therefore, the light . . . be darkness, how great is the darkness” (vi. 22, 23).
Here, again, the “eye” signifies the understanding of truth and belief in it, which is called a lamp from the light of truth that man has from understanding and belief. And because a man becomes wise from understanding and believing in truth, it is said “if the eye be sound the whole body is light.” The “body” means the man, and “to be light” means to be wise. But it is the reverse with the “evil eye,” that is, understanding and believing in falsity. “Darkness” means falsities, “if the light be darkness” signifies if the truth be false or falsified, and because truth falsified is worse than any other falsity, it is said, “If the light be darkness, how great is the darkness.”
These few examples make clear what correspondence is and what influx is, namely, that the eye is a correspondence of the understanding and faith, the heart a correspondence of the will and love, the ears a correspondence of obedience, the lamp and light correspondences of truth, and darkness a correspondence of falsity, and so on; and as the one is spiritual and the other is natural, and the spiritual acts into the natural and forms it to a likeness of itself that it may appear before the eyes or before the world, so that action is influx. Such is the Word in each and every particular. (A.E., n. 1081.)
The spiritual by influx presents what is correspondent to itself in the natural, in order that the end may become a cause, and the cause become an effect, and thus the end through the cause may present itself in the effect as visible and sensible. This trine, namely, end, cause, and effect, exists from creation in every heaven. The end is good of love, the cause is truth from that good, and the effect is use. The producing force is love, and the product therefrom is of love from good by means of truth. The final products, which are in our world, are various, as numerous as the objects are in its three kingdoms of nature, animal, vegetable, and mineral. All products are correspondences. As this trine, namely, end, cause, and effect, exists in each heaven, there must be in each heaven products that are correspondences, and that are like in form and aspect the objects in the three kingdoms of our earth; from which it is clear that each heaven is like our earth in outward appearance, differing only in excellence and beauty according to degrees. Now in order that the Word may be full, that is, may consist of effects in which are a cause and an end, or may consist of uses in which truth is the cause and good is the end and love is the producing force, it must needs consist of correspondences; and from this it follows that the Word in each heaven is like the Word in our world, differing only in excellence and beauty according to degrees. What this difference is shall be told elsewhere. (A.E., n. 1082.)
As there is a trine, one within another, in every last particular of the Word, and this trine is like that of effect, cause, and end, it follows that there are three senses in the Word, one within another, namely, a natural, a spiritual, and a celestial; a natural for the world, a spiritual for the heavens of the Lord’s spiritual kingdom, and a celestial for the heavens of His celestial kingdom. (That the entire heavens are divided into two kingdoms, the spiritual and the celestial, may be seen in Heaven and Hell, n. 20-28.) Now as there is one sense within another, a first which is the sense of the letter for the natural world, a second which is the internal sense for the spiritual kingdom, and a third which is the inmost for the celestial kingdom, it follows that a natural man draws from it his sense, a spiritual angel his sense, and a celestial angel his sense, thus everyone what is analogous to and in agreement with his own essence and nature. This takes place whenever a man who is led by the Lord is reading the Word.
But let this be illustrated by examples. When this commandment of the Decalogue is read, “Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother,” a man in the world understands by “father and mother” a father and mother on the earth, and also all who are or may be in the place of father or mother; and by “honoring” he understands to hold such in honor. But an angel of the spiritual kingdom understands by “father” the Divine good, and by “mother” the Divine truth, and by “honoring” loving; while an angel of the celestial kingdom understands by “father” the Lord, and by “mother” heaven and the church, and by “honoring” doing.
When the fifth commandment of the Decalogue, “Thou shalt not steal,” is read, by “stealing” a man understands stealing, defrauding, and taking away under any pretense his neighbor’s goods. But an angel of the spiritual kingdom by “stealing” understands depriving another of his truths and goods by means of falsities and evils, while an angel of the celestial kingdom by “not to steal” understands not to attribute to himself the things that are the Lord’s, as the good of love and the truth of faith; for thereby good becomes not good, and truth not truth, because they are from men.
When the sixth commandment, “Thou shalt not commit adultery,” is read, a man by “committing adultery” understands committing adultery and whoredom, also thinking filthy thoughts, speaking lasciviously, and doing obscene things. But an angel of the spiritual kingdom by “committing adultery” understands falsifying the truths of the Word and adulterating its goods; while an angel of the celestial kingdom by “committing adultery” understands blaspheming against the Lord, heaven, and the church.
When the seventh commandment, “Thou shalt not kill,” is read, by “killing” a man understands hating and desiring revenge, even to murder. But an angel of the spiritual kingdom by “killing” understands the killing of a man’s soul by stumbling blocks to the life and by reasonings, whereby a man is led into spiritual death, while an angel of the celestial kingdom by “killing” understands seducing a man into believing that there is no God and no heaven and no hell, for thus man’s eternal life is destroyed.
When the eighth commandment, “Thou shalt not bear false witness,” is read, a man by “false witness” understands lying and defamation. But an angel of the spiritual kingdom by “false witness” understands asserting, proving, and persuading that falsity is truth and evil is good, or on the other hand that truth is falsity and good is evil, while an angel of the celestial kingdom by “false witness” understands every falsity against the Lord, and against heaven in favor of hell.
All this makes clear how a man draws and calls forth from the Word in the letter a natural sense, a spiritual angel a spiritual sense, and a celestial angel a celestial sense, much as the wood of a tree draws its sap, the leaf its sap, and the fruit its sap, from the same soil. And what is wonderful, this is done instantly, without the angel’s knowing what the man thinks, or the man what the angel thinks, and yet their thoughts are one by correspondences, as end, cause, and effect are one. Moreover, ends are actually in the celestial kingdom, causes in the spiritual kingdom, causes in the spiritual kingdom, and effects in the natural world. (A.E., n. 1083.)
Since it is from creation that end, cause, and effect shall together make one, so it is from creation that the heavens shall make one with the church on the earth, but by means of the Word, when it is read by man from a love of truth and good. For the Word was given by the Lord to this end, that there might be a perpetual conjunction of the angels of heaven with men on the earth, and a perpetual communication according to conjunction. Without this medium there would be no conjunction or communication with heaven on this earth. The conjunction and communication are instantaneous, and for the reason that all things of the Word in the sense of the letter are as effects, in which the cause and the end exist together, and the effects, which are in the Word, are called uses, their cause truths, and their ends goods; and the Divine love, which is the Lord, unites these three together in the man who is in an affection for uses from the Word.
How a man draws and calls forth from the Word in the letter the natural sense, a spiritual angel the spiritual sense, and a celestial angel the celestial sense, and this instantly, from which there is a communication and a conjunction, shall be illustrated by comparisons; first by something in the animal kingdom, afterward by something in the vegetable kingdom, and finally by something in the mineral kingdom.
From the Animal Kingdom:--From the food, when it has been changed into chyle, the vessels draw and call forth their blood, the fibers of the nerves their fluid, and the substances that are the origins of fibers their spirit, which is called the animal spirit; and this is done through the vital heat, which in its essence is love. The vessels, the fibers, and the substances which are their origins, are distinct from each other, and yet they act as one throughout the body, and they act together and on the instant.
From the Vegetable Kingdom:--The tree, with its trunk and branches, leaves and fruits, stands upon its root, and from the soil where its root is draws and calls forth its sap, a coarser sap for the trunk and branches, a purer for the leaves, and a still purer and also nobler for the fruits and for the seeds in them; and this is done by means of heat from the sun. Here the branches, leaves, and fruit are distinct, and yet they extract together and instantly and from the same soil foods of such different purity and nobleness.
From the Mineral Kingdom:--In the bosom of the earth in certain places there are minerals impregnated with gold, silver, copper, and iron. From vapors stored up in the earth the gold attracts its element, silver its element, copper and iron theirs, distinctly, together, and on the instant, and this by means of some power of unknown heat.
As it is allowable to illustrate spiritual things by means of comparisons drawn from natural things, these will serve to illustrate how interior things, which are spiritual and celestial, and by which a man of the church has communication and conjunction with the heavens, can be drawn and called forth and extracted and eliminated from the Word in its outmosts, that is, the sense of the letter. Comparisons can be made with these, because all things in the three kingdoms of nature, animal, vegetable, and mineral, correspond to the spiritual things that are in the three heavens, as the food of the body with which a comparison has been made, corresponds to the food of the soul, which is knowledge, intelligence, and wisdom; a tree, with which also a comparison has been made, corresponds to man, the tree to man himself, the wood to his good, the leaves to his truths, and the fruits to his uses; so, too, gold, silver, copper, and iron, correspond to goods and truths, gold to celestial good, silver to spiritual truth, copper to natural good, and iron to natural truth. Moreover, these things have these significations in the Word. And what is wonderful, the purer are contained in the grosser and are drawn from them, as the animal spirit and the nerve fluid are contained in blood from which the original substances and nerve fibers draw and extract their distinct portions. So, again, fruits and leaves draw theirs from the gross fluid that is brought up from the soil by the wood and its bark, and so on. Thus comparatively, as has been said, the purer senses of the Word are drawn and called forth from the sense of the letter. (A.E., n. 1084.)
As there are three senses in the Word, a natural, a spiritual, and a celestial, and as its natural sense, which is the sense of the letter, is a containment of the two senses, the spiritual and celestial, it follows that the sense of the letter of the Word is the basis of those senses. And as the angels of the three heavens receive their wisdom from the Lord through the Word that they have, and as their Words make one with our Word by correspondences, it also follows that the sense of the letter of our Word is the basis, support, and foundation of the wisdom of the angels of heaven. For the heavens rest upon the human race as a house rests upon its foundation; so the wisdom of the angels of heaven rests in like manner upon the knowledge, intelligence, and wisdom of men from the sense of the letter of the Word; for, as has been said above, communication and conjunction with the heavens are effected through the sense of the letter of the Word. For this reason, as a result of the Lord’s Divine providence, there has been no mutilation of the sense of the letter of the Word from its first revelation, not even in a word or letter in the original text; for each word, and in some measure each letter, is a support.
From all this it is clear what a profanation it is to falsify the truths and adulterate the goods of the Word, and how infernal it is to deny or to weaken its holiness. As soon as that is done, for that man of the church heaven is closed. The blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which cannot be forgiven, is the blasphemy of the Word by those who deny its holiness. Since the Word is the basis of the heavens, and since the Word was wholly falsified and adulterated by the Jewish nation by traditions and adaptation of the sense of the letter to favor their evil loves, lest the heavens should be endangered and the wisdom of the angels there should become foolishness it pleased the Lord to come down from heaven and to put on the Human and to become the Word (as is evident from John i. 14), and thus to restore the state of heaven. (A.E., n. 1085.)
There is a successive order and there is a simultaneous order. In successive order things pure and perfect appear above, and those less pure and perfect appear below. The three heavens are in successive order, one above another; and in the higher heavens all things are pure and perfect, while in the lower they are less pure and perfect. Simultaneous order exists in lower things, and fully in the lowest; for higher things let themselves down and place themselves in the order that is called simultaneous, in which the pure and perfect things, which were the higher, are in the middle or center, and the less pure and perfect, which were the lower, are in the circumferences. Therefore all things that have come forth in successive order are together in outmosts in their order.
As all higher things place themselves in what is lowest in simultaneous order, it follows that in the outmosts of the Word, which constitute the sense of its letter, are all things of Divine truth and of Divine good, even from their firsts. And as all things of Divine truth and Divine good are together in their outmost, which is the sense of the letter of the Word, there evidently is the power of Divine truth, yea, the omnipotence of the Lord in saving man. For when the Lord operates He operates not from first things through mediates into outmosts, but from first things through outmosts and thus into mediates. This is why the Lord is called in the Word the First and the Last; and this is why the Lord assumed the Human, which in the world was Divine truth or the Word, and glorified it even to outmosts, which are the bones and flesh, in order that He might operate from first things through outmosts, and not as before from man, but from Himself.
This power in outmosts was represented by the hair with the Nazirites, as with Samson, for the hair with the Nazirites, as with Samson, for the hair corresponds to the outmosts of Divine truth. And for this reason, to produce baldness was regarded in ancient times as disgraceful.
The boys who called Elisha “bald head” were torn in pieces by bears, because Elisha and Elijah represented the Word; and the Word without the sense of the letter, which is like a head without hair, is destitute of all power, and thus is no longer the Word. “Bears” signify those that have strength from the outmost of truth.
The power of the Word in the sense of the letter is the power to open heaven, whereby communication and conjunction are effected, and also the power to fight against falsities and evils, thus against the hells. A man who is in genuine truths from the sense of the letter of the Word can disperse and scatter the whole diabolical crew and their devices in which they place their power, which are innumerable, and this in a moment, merely by careful thought and an effort of the will. In brief, in the spiritual world nothing can resist genuine truths confirmed by the sense of the letter of the Word (A.E., n. 1086.)
Now since all interior things, that is, the spiritual and celestial things that are in the Words of the three heavens, are together in the outmost sense of the Word, which is called the sense of the letter (for in its inmosts there are the things that are in the Word that the angels of the third heaven have, and in its middle parts the things that are in the Words belonging to the angels of the lower heavens, and these are encompassed by such things as exist in the nature of our world and are included in these), so the sense of the letter of our Word is from all these. From this it can be seen that Divine truth is in its fullness in the sense of the letter of our Word. That is said to be full which contains in itself all things prior, even from the first, or all things higher even from the highest; the last is what includes these. The fullness of the Word is like a general vessel of marble, in which are countless lesser vessels of crystal, and in these still more numerous vessels of precious stones, in and about which are the most delightful things of heaven which are for those who perform noble uses according to the Word.
That the Word is such is not evident to man while he is in the world; but it is evident to him when he becomes an angel. Because the Word is such in outmosts it follows that it is not the Word until it is in that outmost, that is, until it is in the sense of the letter. The Word not in that outmost would be like a temple in the air and not on the earth, or like a man having flesh but without bones.
As Divine truth is in its fullness and also in its power in its outmost, for when it is in that it is in all things at once, so the Lord never works except from first things through outmosts, and thus in fullness. For He reforms and regenerates man only through truths in outmosts, which are natural. And this is why a man remains after his departure out of the world to eternity such as he has been in the world. For the same reason heaven and hell are from the human race, and angels are not created immediately such; for in the world a man is in his fullness, consequently he can there be conceived and born, and afterward be imbued with knowledge, intelligence, and wisdom, and become an angel. To create angels in any other way is impossible.
Because the Lord works all things from things first through outmosts, and is in His power and in His fullness in outmosts, so it pleased the Lord to take upon Him the Human and to become Divine truth, that is, the Word, and thus from Himself to reduce to order all things of heaven and all things of hell, that is, to execute a last judgment. This the Lord could accomplish from the Divine in Himself, which was in things first, through His Human which was in outmosts, and not, as before, from His presence or abode in the men of the church; for these had wholly forsaken the truths and goods of the Word, in which the Lord had previously had His dwelling-place with men. This was the chief reason for the Lord’s coming into the world, also for making His Human Divine; for He thus put Himself into possession of a power to hold all things of heaven and all things of hell in order for ever. This is meant by
“Sitting at the right hand of God” (Mark xvi. 19).
“The right hand of God” means Divine omnipotence, and “to sit at the right hand of God” means to be in that omnipotence through the Human. That the Lord ascended into heaven with His Human glorified even to outmosts He testifies in Luke:
Jesus said to the disciples, “See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; handle Me and see, for a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye behold Me having” (xxiv. 39).
This the Lord said just after His resurrection. “Flesh and bones” are the outmosts of the human body, on which its strength depends. (A.E., n. 1087.)
Divine truth is what is called holy, but only when it is in its outmost, and its outmost is the Word in the sense of the letter; therefore the Divine truth there is holy, and may be called a holy place, and for the reason that that sense contains and encloses all the holy things of heaven and the church. The appearance is that Divine truths in the heavens, which are called spiritual and celestial, are more holy than the Divine truths in the sense of the letter of the Word, which are natural; but the Divine truths in the heavens, which are called spiritual and celestial, are comparatively like the lungs and heart in man, which form the chest only when they are encompassed by ribs, and enclosed in the pleura and diaphragm; for without these integuments, and even unless connected with them by bonds, they could not perform their vital functions. The spiritual things of the Word are like the breathing of the lungs, its celestial things are like the systole and diastole of the heart, and its natural things are like the pleura, the diaphragm, and the ribs, with the moving fibers attached, by which the motions are made reciprocal.
Again, the spiritual and celestial things of the Word are comparatively like the holy things of the tabernacle, which consisted of the table upon which was the shew bread, the golden altar upon which was the incense, the perfumes and the censor, also the lampstand with the lamps, and still further within, the cherubim, the mercy seat, and the ark. All these were the holy things of the Jewish and Israelitish church; nevertheless they could not be called holy and a sanctuary until they had been covered by curtains and veils, for without those coverings they would have stood under the naked sky, exposed to showers and storms, to the birds of heaven and the wild beasts of the earth, and also to robbers that would violate, plunder, and scatter them. So would it be with the Divine truths in the heavens, which are called spiritual and celestial, unless they were enclosed in natural truths, like the truths of the sense of the letter of the Word.
Natural truths, which are the truths of the sense of the letter of the Word, are not the very truths of heaven, but are appearances of them; and appearances of truth encompass, enclose and contain the truths of heaven, which are genuine truths, and cause them to be in connection and order and to act together, like the cardiac and pulmonary organs with their coverings and ribs, as has been said above; and when these truths are held in connection and in order they are holy, and not till then. This the sense of the letter of our Word does by means of the appearances of truth of which its outmost consists; and this is why that sense is the holy Divine itself and a sanctuary.
But he is greatly mistaken who separates appearances of truth from genuine truths and calls these appearances holy by themselves and of themselves, and not the sense of the letter holy by these and from these, and together with these. He separates these who sees only the sense of the letter and does not explore its meaning, as those do who do not read the Word from doctrine. The “cherubim” mean in the Word guard and protection that the holy things of heaven be not violated, and that the Lord be approached only through love; consequently these signify the sense of the letter of the Word, because that is what guards and protects. It guards and protects in this manner that man can think and speak according to appearances of truth so long as he is well-disposed, simple, and as it were a child; but he must take heed not to so confirm appearances as to destroy the genuine truths in the heavens. (A.E., n. 1088.)
It is an invariable truth that no one can understand the Word without doctrine; for he may be led away into any errors to which he may be inclined from some love, or to which he may be drawn from some principle, whereby his mind becomes unsettled and uncertain, and at length as it were destitute of truth. But he who reads the Word from doctrine sees all things that confirm it, and many things that are hidden from the eyes of others, and does not permit himself to be drawn away into strange things; and thus his mind becomes so settled as to see with certainty.
Again, unless the Word is read from doctrine it may be drawn away to confirm heresies, for the reason that the sense of its letter consists of mere correspondences, and these are in great part appearances of truth, and in part genuine truths, and unless there be doctrine for a lamp these cannot be seen and cannot be distinguished from each other.
And yet only from the Word can doctrine be acquired, and it can be acquired only by those who are in enlightenment from the Lord. Those are in enlightenment who love truths because they are truths and make them to be of their life. Moreover, all things of doctrine must be confirmed by the sense of the letter of the Word, because Divine truth is in its fullness and in its power in that sense, and through it man is in conjunction with the Lord and in consociation with the angels. In brief, he who loves truth because it is truth can inquire of the Lord, as it were, in doubtful matters of faith, and can receive answers from Him, but nowhere except in the Word for the reason that the Lord is the Word. (A.E., n. 1089.)
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