The Bible or Word of God
We often speak of "the Spirit of the Gospels," but as to what that spirit is they are very vague. It is sometimes called "the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man," but as to what is the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man they have vague and different ideas in which there is no agreement.
Some regard the Ten Blessings as expressing the spirit of the Gospels, but with no clear idea of what is meant by "the poor in spirit" or "the meek." The idea obtained from them is often a sentimental idea of Christ, such as mere love, apart from any judgment any definite stand; this is quite contrary to the teaching of the Gospels, where we read of the Lord making severe judgments: casting out the thieves from the temple and denouncing the self-righteous Pharisees. Some look for a spiritual meaning in all parts of the Bible, but to them the meaning is vague and uncertain.
The Word, spiritually seen, is a Divine Man. Its spirit is its soul and its letter is its body.
The letter without the spirit is a corpse. The spirit without the letter is a ghost or disembodied spirit having no form, an indefinite something on which no two persons agree.
Those who regard only a spirit and those who regard only the letter are at the extremes. What is the golden mean? It is to see that the body of the Word of God is its letter and the spirit is its soul, and that both are from God.
The Old Testament, in every last detail, does not appear to treat of our Lord, nor can it easily be seen how the Lord could fulfill every least thing of the Books of the Old Testament during His life on earth.
When the Lord lived on earth with His twelve Apostles, they saw and were deeply impressed by His person as they knew it. Yet what they knew of Him was relatively little. They saw His acts and listened to His teaching, but His inner life, His struggles and combats, were hidden from them except on rare occasions, as in Gethsemane and at Calvary.
The Lord could not reveal His inner thoughts to the Apostles, for these men were too simple to understand, and, besides, they had not the character to understand, for even James and John, who were two of the three leading Apostles, had the audacity to ask to sit, one on His right hand and the other on His left hand in His Kingdom. As the Apostles were not prepared to enter into the inmost truths of faith, Jesus said to them: "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth." (John 16:12,13.)
Still, all the inner and hidden life of the Lord is contained in the Law and the Prophets, if they are opened up as they were by the Lord, in a brief and general way, to the two disciples as He walked with them to Emmaus. Concerning this we read: "Then he said unto them, 0 fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." (Luke 24:25-27.)
In a work consisting of twelve large volumes, The Arcana Coelestia, by Emanuel Swedenborg, Genesis and Exodus are explained with respect to their spiritual meaning. We cannot attempt even to summarize the contents of this work in a volume such as this, but we shall give an idea of certain chapters from this work. We have already spoken of Adam and Eve, of the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and of the serpent.
We shall now treat of an episode in the story of Noah.
Adam stands for the first or Most Ancient Church on earth; Noah, for the second or Ancient Church. Frequently in the Word of the Lord, a church is spoken of as if it were a person, usually as a woman. The church is called the wife of the Lord, as in the book of Revelation, where the New Jerusalem is called the wife of the Lamb.
In the Prophets, Judah is spoken of as an unfaithful wife. Such a form of speech has come down to the present day, in relation to nations: we speak of Uncle Sam, John Bull, and Marianne. In the first eleven chapters of Genesis, the persons mentioned are not literally persons, nor are the events literal events. For example, the flood was not a literal flood of water, but a flood of evil and falsity. "The flood" has a similar meaning when the Lord said that the floods came and carried away the house built on sand.
The human race has had its infancy, childhood, and adult life. Whereas the stories in the Word, in their historical sense, treat of the churches which have been in the past, these stories also have an application to every real church, and to every man and woman who is regenerated, for the history of the individual man corresponds to the history of the human race. In the supreme sense, they treat of the life of our Lord.
The flood, as has been recognized from the earliest Christian period, stands for temptations. Spiritual temptations come to a man or to a church when there is the beginning of a strong love for the Lord, for His Word, and for one's neighbor. When a man has acquired such loves and begins to come into doubts and obscurities, even to the point where he begins to feel that his faith and spiritual life are failing, he comes into temptations; he suffers from the fear of losing his spiritual lifeat times even to despair. The greater has been his love to the Lord and His Word, the greater his suffering at the thought of losing such a life of love and faith. Yet he finds difficulty in shaking off his doubts; many objections against faith come to his mind and torment him. Waters signify truth, but every word also has an opposite meaning. A destructive flood of water signifies false ideas and reasonings.
After a man has undergone the distress of temptations, doubts, and obscurities, false ideas tend still to disturb him; for, even though he has overcome the temptation, time is necessary entirely to remove the false reasonings.
A window is to a house or to the Ark as is the eye to the body, and the eye signifies an inner sight of the mind. Noah's opening the window and sending forth a raven signifies that false ideas and reasonings still disturbed. A man in this state has a certain inner light, like the light of early dawn, that he has acquired as the result of overcoming temptations; but still the shades of night have not been dissipated. As he progresses, he comes to a new, holy faith in what is good and true. This new faith is represented by the dove which Noah sent forth.
As is known from the Gospels, a dove represents the Spiritthe Spirit of God or the Holy Spirit. The words "Holy Spirit" do not occur in the Old Testament, but instead "the Spirit of Jehovah" (translated, "the Spirit of the Lord") occurs frequently, also "the Spirit of God" and "the Spirit of the Lord." In three places in the Old Testamentonce in the Psalms and twice in Isaiahthe phrase "the spirit of holiness" occurs (mistranslated in the King James Bible as "the Holy Spirit").
The reason why the Holy Spirit is not spoken of in the Old Testament is given in the Gospel of John: "But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive; for the Holy Spirit (Ghost) was not yet, because that Jesus was not yet glorified." (John 7:39.)
In the King James Bible, it says "The Holy Ghost was not yet given." By adding the word "given," which does not occur in the Greek, the meaning is entirely changed. There are some other places where the translators changed or added words in their translation of the Bible to make it agree with their theology, altering the Greek textan example of which is found in the King James Bible in Matthew 24:3, where the words "the consummation of the age" (Greek aion) are mistranslated "the end of the world."
That a dove signifies the spirit is evident in Matthew, where it is said: "He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove." (3:16.)
In a cross reference in the reference Bible, we are referred to Isaiah 11:1,2, where we read: "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse; . . . and the spirit of Jehovah shall rest upon him."
In Mark it is merely said: "He saw the Spirit like a dove descending upon him." (1:10.) And in Luke 3:22, it is said: "The Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove."
In John 1:32, John the Baptist is quoted as saying: "I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him." In the above the dove is said to be "The spirit of God" and "the spirit," whereas in the prophecy of Isaiah it is said to be "the Spirit of Jehovah."
How do we reconcile these passages? The word translated "spirit" in its root meanings in the Hebrew and Greek is air, wind, or breath. Air stands for or signifies the breath of God, that is, His Spirit.
We read in the second chapter of Genesis, verse seven: "And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." By "the breath of life" is here meant not man's animal life, but his spiritual life, which causes man to be a spiritually living soul—the life that is arrived at by following the "narrow . . . way, which leadeth unto life" (Matthew 7:14), that life which the Lord spoke of when He said: "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly." (John 10:10.)
It is this life which the Lord meant when it is said that "He breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Spirit." (John 20:22.)
It is obvious that the breath of Jehovah God is the spirit of Jehovah God, and the breath of the Lord Jesus Christ is His spirit which goes forth and is received by man. How the church could have come to the idea that the Holy Spirit was a person from the beginning is indeed strange, for there is no support for such an idea in the Word, and it is an unreasonable idea. In John the Holy Spirit is called "the Spirit of truth." (16:13.) It is the Spirit of truth of our Lord, which proceeds from the Lord and is received in the mind of man.
Before the Lord came on earth, this spirit of truth, or the spirit of Jehovah God, inspired men. (The literal meaning of "inspire" is to breathe into.) When mankind had so turned away that they could no longer receive the spirit of Jehovah God, the Lord had to come down by birth into the world—and to come on a lower plane, where He was "the way, the truth and the life," in order that from Himself He could again breathe upon or inspire into men the breath of a new life.
In the world, Jehovah God took to Himself a Human nature by birth from a virgin, as we read: "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee." (Luke 1:35.) The Holy Spirit is the Divine Truth and the power of the Highest is the Divine Good of love, both proceeding from Jehovah God.
At the Lord's baptism, there was a new infinite influx of the Divine Truth from Jehovah God, which was the soul of our Lord Jesus, into His Human, called the Son.
By the inflowing of the Divine Itself, the Infinite Divine, into the Human, the human was gradually made a Divine Human, and all the Infinite power of Jehovah God was transferred into this Divine Human, as the Lord said after His resurrection: "All power is given unto Me in heaven and in earth." (Matthew 28:18.)
The Divine and the Human called the Father and the Son were then entirely one, one in essence and one in person, as the soul and body are one person.
This making Divine the Human is called in the Gospels glorification. That it was a gradual process is taught in the Gospel of John:
Therefore, when he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him. If God be glorified in Him, God shall also glorify Him in Himself. (John 13:31,32)
Father, glorify thy name, ... I have both glorified it and will glorify it again. (John 12:28.)
That the Lord was not fully glorified, or made Divine, and thus one with the Father in essence and person until after the resurrection, is taught as follows: "These things understood not His disciples at the first; but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of Him." (John 12:16.)
And shortly before the crucifixion, He said: "The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified." (John 12:23.)
It was after our Lord was fully glorified and had risen from the dead that His Holy Spirit, signified by the breathing upon the disciples, could go forth from Him.
Because this long process of glorification commenced with the Lord's childhood, in the beginning of the Gospels it speaks of the Holy Spirit; yet, as was shown above, the Holy Spirit in its fullness did not exist until the Lord rose again in the fullness of His glorified Divine Human. At the Lord's Baptism the "Spirit of God," spoken of in Matthew, which came upon Jesus, was the influx of the Divine Truth into Him from His Divine soul called the Father; and not the Divine Truth which proceeded from Him and was received by others. It is, indeed, called the Holy Spirit in Luke, because the work of glorification was already progressing. But that it was not the Holy Spirit itself which proceeds from Him is evident from the words spoken later: "The Holy Spirit was not yet, because that Jesus was not yet glorified." (John 7:39.)
The dove in the story of Noah stands for or signifies the goods and truths of faith which man is in when inspired by the Spirit of God.
Noah is said to have first sent forth the dove to see if the waters were abated from off the face of the ground. When the truths of faith are first inspired into man, false ideas still disturb his mind, for he is not yet in clear light as to what is true and what is false, and therefore the truths of faith are like truth of the Word, which the Lord called seed, but which in the first state cannot take root on account of false ideas that still cling to man.
On account of the flood of waters that still remained, the dove found no rest for the sole of her foot and returned to Noah. This signifies that, on account of the false ideas that still clung to him, the spirit was not free but returned to Noah and the confinement of the ark—that is, to the church signified by Noah, and the like happens to every man who is in a similar state. One in such obscurity supposes that the good he does and the truths he thinks are from himself, and he takes them to himself as Noah took the dove to himself.
John the Baptist said: "A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven." (John 3:27.) Whereas a man may, as it were, know this because he has read it in the Word, or heard it in the church, still he feels so strongly that the good he does and the truth he thinks are his own, that for a long time he does not realize that they are from God out of heaven.
"He [Noah] put forth his hand, and took her, and pulled her in unto him into the ark." (Genesis 8:9.) The hand and also the arm signify power, for the power of the body is by means of the arms and hands; wherefore frequent mention is made in the Word of the hand and arm of Jehovah to signify His power or omnipotence, as in the Psalms, "Jehovah upholdeth him with His hand." (37:24.) "Thou art the God that doest wonders: Thou hast declared Thy strength among the people. Thou hast with Thine arm redeemed Thy people." (Psalm 77:14,15.) "Sing unto Jehovah ... His right hand, and His holy arm, hath gotten Him the victory." (Psalm 98:1.) "The heavens are the work of Thy hands." (Psalm 102:25.) In an unfavorable sense, a hand represents a man's vanity in trusting in his own power, as in Isaiah: "They worship the work of their own hands." (2:8.)
Noah's putting forth his hand and taking the dove signifies man's thinking that he can take to himself the truths of faith by his own power. Most leaders of the church say that all power is from the Lord, and that also all of faith is from the Lord; yet in their hearts they feel they have acquired the truths of faith by their own power.
After seven days, that is, in a holy state, the dove was sent forth again, and returned with an olive leaf plucked off. An olive tree signifies the love of God and one's neighbor; and for this reason the Lord dwelt on the Mount of Olives. Fruit, as is well known, signifies deeds, particularly deeds of love to God and one's neighbor. Leaves signify the truths of faith. As faith without deeds is not saving, therefore the Lord cursed the tree which had leaves but no fruit.
An olive leaf in the mouth of the dove signifies some little truth of faith, a truth of life, inspired by the Spirit of God.
Seven more days had to pass, that is, a following holy state, before the dove was again sent forth. This time the dove was free and did not have to return, for the flood was no longer covering the land. After living imprisoned in the ark, the free state of the dove and afterward of Noah when he left the ark—recalls to our mind the words of the Lord: "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. . . . Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. ... If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." (John 8:32, 34, 36.)
There is no one who thinks he is more free than one who trusts solely in himself and his own ability to find the truth aided by no one. Yet such a one is the slave of his own vanity and conceit and can never find the truth, no matter how hard he searches. On the other hand, one who trusts in the Lord and in His Word is free, for it is the very nature of God to make man free to find the truth, and to live it freely and joyfully.
All churches and civilizations have had their infancy, childhood, and adult age, followed by a decline. When a church comes to its spiritual fall, although it may long continue for many centuries as an external organization, a new church is raised up. At the end of the Most Ancient Church, represented by Adam and his descendants, the church was first cast out of Paradise and then came to an end in an overflowing of evil and false things, represented by a flood, and a new church called Noah and his sons was established. Later a church was established with Abraham and his descendants which, when it fell into hypocrisy, was judged by the Lord, at His Coming into the world, and the Christian Church was established. The fall and judgment of the Christian Church by the Lord, at His Second Coming, are prophesied in the Gospels and the book of Revelation. Following this a New Church is instituted, called, in the book of Revelation, the New Jerusalem or, to use the Greek of the Gospels, Nova Hierosolyma.
The fall of the Noachic Church is represented by what is said about the tower of Babel.
We read: "The whole land was of one lip, and their words were one." (Gen. 11:1.)
Lips and words signify the doctrine or teachings of the Church, for it is by the lips and by words that the teachings are communicated from man to man. To have one lip, and the words being one, signifies that there was one teaching or doctrine. The church called Noah, which included his descendants, was widespread, and there were many nations around the land of Canaan which belonged to this church. In these nations there was a variety of worship and teachings, yet this variety was a harmonious variety, a harmony which made them one and united them into one church.
As long as there is a spirit of spiritual or real charity, different organizations of the church in different lands make it one, for all have good will and therefore understand each other.
Take two men who are humble and are of good will but who differ as to their doctrinal position. In speaking together, if one points out the error that the other is in, the one who has his position criticized carefully considers the criticism to see whether there is any truth in it; and if, after prayer to God, he finds that there is, he modifies his point of view. He may then point out errors in the other's point of view. Thus, although the emphasis may remain different, an ever-increasing harmony of thought develops between them. If, however, there is no humility and no good will, antagonism on account of doctrinal difference increases. The same is true of churches. If all churches were in good will and were willing to humble themselves before the Word of God and give up all their cherished ideas which do not agree with the Word of God, there would be internal unity. This, however, does not mean that there should be an ecumenical coming together of churches at the sacrifice or compromising of the truth. For example, if those who believe in the Divine nature of the Word of God and therefore believe that the Lord Jesus Christ is their Lord and their God—compromise and join with those who believe that the Bible is a human production and deny the Virgin birth and the Divinity of the Lord, they still have nothing spiritually in common. When a compromise is made as to the very essence of faith, those having no faith in the Word of God prevail and all living faith perishes.
The prevailing idea is that charity involves abstaining from a forceful exposure of false ideas. But this is not a Christian idea, for the Lord condemned the false ideas of those with whom He dwelt on earth in the sharpest of language; yet He did this out of pure love, saying, "0 Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!" (Luke 13:34.)
Union of church organizations may have as its purpose increase of power and influence, protection from a common enemy, improvement of one's image before others, or reduction in the cost of running a church. Such union has nothing to do with good will or charity, although it may put on such an appearance, just as thieves are friendly to each other in order to protect themselves or for the sake of uniting to carry out their ends.
It is said of those who built the tower of Babel that they journeyed from the east. The east, or sunrise, signifies love to the Lord and charity. To go from the east means that they departed from love and charity.
They said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, . . . and let us make us a name. (Genesis 11:4)
A city signifies doctrine or teaching, and a tower in the unfavorable sense signifies the loftiness that comes from loving one's self in the first place. "... and its head in heaven" signifies even having dominion over the things of heaven, or the divine things of the church. ". . . and let us make a name" signifies that they desired to have a reputation for power.
It is the nature of a man who has not been born again to long for power and influence, to long to be able to command and domineer over others. In churches the leaders who have such ambitions invent teachings which add to their power and authority. Examples of this in the Christian Church are claims involving the power to admit or not to admit into heaven; also, the idea that one has been called by the Lord to the ministry, when frequently the call was an imaginary response to a personal ambition. Every doctrinal position taken by a church or congregation for the sake of influence or popularity, every political attitude which does not humbly submit to the Word of the Lord, no matter what the consequences, but strives for the prosperity of this world or the increase of membership or wealth, becomes a city and tower of Babel.
When such an attitude prevails, to prevent profanation the Lord is said to go down, confound their lip that they hear not the lip of their fellow. (Genesis 11:7.) This signifies that the inner truth in the Word of God is taken from them and thejr are left "in the letter" which is not understood and about which they begin to quarrel and dispute, so that there is no agreement and they are deprived of their power.
The literal-minded in the above passages will think of the man Abraham, but those who think more deeply can see that Abraham represents the Lord, whose children we may become. To Isaac it is also said, "In thy seed shall all the nations of the land he blessed" (Genesis 26:4), and to Jacob it is said: "Blessed be he that blesseth thee." (Genesis 27:29.)
 The Patriarchs
From the beginning of the Christian Church up until the present, it has been recognized by some that the Patriarchs were types or representatives of the Messiah who was to come.
It has been recognized by some that Israel represents the Lord, on account of the verse in the Gospels which reads: "He took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt, . . . that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son." (Matthew 2:14,15.) The passage here referred to reads: "When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt." (Hosea 11:1.)
That Abraham was also a type of the Messiah who was to come and thus represented the Lord is evident from the fact that it is repeatedly said in Genesis concerning Abraham: "In thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." (12:3, 18:18.) Now no one is blessed in Abraham or in the name of Abraham; but all are blessed in the Lord, the Messiah, whom Abraham represented or prefigured. This is also confirmed by the verse in Galatians 3:7 which reads: "Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham"; and by these words of John the Baptist in the Gospels: "Think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father; for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham." (Matthew 3:9.)
In the commencement of the twelfth chapter of Genesis we read: "And Jehovah said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from . . . thy father's house, unto a land I will cause thee to see." (12:1.)
Abram here represents the Lord in His early childhood. He also represents the presence of the Lord with man. Man's life, if he is born again or regenerated, is an image of the Lord's life.
The Lord commenced to glorify Himself, that is, perfect or make Divine His Human nature, from earliest childhood ; as He said to Mary and Joseph when He was twelve years old, "Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business?" (Luke 2:49.)
Man on the other hand is not regenerated and born again until he reaches adulthood. Then, being born again involves the Lord's coming to man, His birth in man.
This new birth is signified by the statement that Jehovah called to Abram to leave his land and go to the land of Canaan. It is generally known that the land of Canaan signifies heaven, wherefore in spiritual songs the expression "heavenly Canaan" occurs. But heaven is not just some place where we go after death; as the Lord said, "The Kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:21.)
The words to Abram have a signification very similar to that of the words of the Lord to His disciples: "He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me." (Matthew 10:37, 38.)
What is this leaving we are asked to do? It is a leaving of our loves that are centered in the outer world and a turning to the "Kingdom of God which is within you," a Kingdom where an inmost love to the Lord and a spiritual charity, which looks to the eternal welfare of one's neighbor, reign. It is not a going away from the world and its occupations and recreations, but a lifting of our spirit and ruling love and joy above the world, so that the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of Heaven within, is more real and of immensely greater significance than the external world.
Such an elevation is not possible except after our moral, civil, and social life has been brought into order. Consider the story of the young man who came to the Lord and asked Him what he should do to inherit eternal life. The Lord said first: "Thou knowest the commandments. Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honor thy father and mother." When the young man said he had kept all these commandments, it is said, "Jesus beholding him loved him." (Mark 10:21.) Having been prepared, he could now come to a new state if he was willing, but to come to this state he had to sell all that he had, take up his cross, and follow the Lord. That is, he was to take his heart away from the things of this world as the center of his life, to do as the Lord commanded. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His justice; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:33.)
Much of Genesis treats of going in and out of the land of Canaan. Abram enters the land of Canaan, and then goes to Egypt. He then returns to the land of Canaan, and later goes to Philistia, from which he again returns to Canaan. Isaac goes to Philistia and returns to Canaan. Jacob goes to Padanaram in Syria and returns, and later goes to Egypt; and finally the children of Israel return to Canaan.
As we have said, Canaan stands for the Kingdom of God, or Kingdom of Heaven, and in relation to man, the Kingdom of God within man; whereas the other lands around Canaan stand for the lower faculties of the mind.
Man's spiritual life consists of ascending and descending, and this repeatedly. Man must ascend to the things of the spirit, and out of the vision which he comes to when in the elevation of the things of the spirit, he must again descend and reorder the things of his outer mind and life. On the basis of such a reordering of his outer or external mind and life, he can again ascend into a fuller vision of the spirit, and this repeatedly; thus man is perfected as to the things of the spirit and as to his life in the world. This whole process is explained, with thousands of particulars, in the explication of Genesis and Exodus in the Arcana Coelestia by Emanuel Swedenborg. As we have said, in this book we can treat only of a very few of the things involved, but we hope this will be sufficient to give the reader some little idea.
As we have said, Abram's first being called and going to the land of Canaan signifies a feeling of love to the Lord in the inner things of the spirit, which we call celestial love, out of which love there is a new vision of the Lord and His Kingdom. With the Lord in His childhood, it was a new love and vision of Jehovah, from whom He was conceived and who was His soul within Him. Many things occur in this exalted state of mind that are described in the twelfth chapter of Genesis but which we shall not treat of here.
After being in this elevated state for some time, the Lord—and man in His image must descend into Egypt.
In the Arcana Coelestia "Egypt" is said to signify the "scientific." In the Writings of Swedenborg words are sometimes used with a different meaning than in ordinary English, for words had to express new ideas. In Latin, in which the Writings of Swedenborg were written, as in French, Dutch, German, and other languages, there are two words for "to know," and hence two words for "knowledges." In Latin, there is the word scire, "to know," and "scientifica, "knowledges," from which come the English words "science" and "scientific"; also there is the Latin word cognoscere, "to know," and cognitiones, "knowledges," from which come the English words "cognitions" and "cognize," which are related to the English word "know."
Man has two memories, an inner or internal memory, and an outer or external memory. The internal memory is his book of life according to which he is judged after death, which contains all things of his spirit and whereon are, as if written, all things of his life, including those that, as to his conscious or external memory, he has forgotten. That there is a memory of which man is unconscious in ordinary states of life is now generally known. In the inner memory, wherein are all things of man's very spirit, are the knowledges which in the Writings of Swedenborg are called "cognitions" ; in the outer conscious memory are the knowledges that in Swedenborg's Writings are called "scientifics." In some translations of the Writings of Swedenborg they are called "memory-knowledges."
"Egypt" stands for the knowledge of things in the external or outer memory. To go into Egypt is to be instructed in those knowledges that we call "scientifics." These knowledges especially include all the knowledges man has of the letter of the Word.
If man has been elevated into an inmost love to God, and if in the Kingdom of Heaven within him he has undergone new experiences, and he then again reads and reflects on the Word and the knowledges he acquires from the Word, he sees the truths of the Word in a new light; he sees many things he could not see before, and he is thus instructed anew.
As Abram and Sarai were coming to Egypt, Abram asked Sarai to say that she was his sister instead of his wife, for, because she was beautiful, he feared that the Egyptians would kill him and take Sarai.
This story of a man asking his wife to say she was his sister is thrice repeated in Genesis: here in Egypt; later (in the twentieth chapter) in Gerar in Philistia; and (in the twenty-sixth chapter), this time also in Gerar, where it is Isaac who asks Rebecca to say that she is his sister. Is it not evident that this thrice-repeated story has a remarkable significance?
In the twelfth chapter, Abram, in relation to man, stands for the inmost love of the Lord, which we call celestial love, and Sarah is the celestial wisdom, or truth that makes one with this love. The heart can sometimes perceive truths of wisdom that the understanding by itself can never grasp; a great love opens the eyes to see things that a cold viewing can never see. A truth can be clearly seen by one who has love into the Lord, although it cannot be demonstrated to one who demands a cold, scientific demonstration of its validity.
When man is in an elevated state, he sees such truths; but when he descends into the plane of his external memory, his "scientifics" and natural reason, the truths in his outer memory are in a region separated from the Kingdom of Heaven, in a part of his mind not yet purified and one that may easily abuse the truths that are from love, or make one with love.
Abram's asking Sarai to say that she was his sister signifies that the truths were to be regarded as intellectual truths and not as truths inspired purely by love.
When a man comes down from a spiritual elevation in which he was inspired by love, he must come to have an intellectual view of the trutha seeing of truth in light. He must have a clear, objective grasp of truth, apart from his love; for if he does not have such a sight of truth, the emotions in his outer or external mind may do violence to the love that he had when in a state of celestial inspiration.
The danger then exists that the external knowledges in his outer memory may grasp with delight the truths that have descended from the Kingdom of Heaven within, and the man may come to desire and care for the knowledges, and not for the love of the Lord that inspired them.
Not until man has gone through the fire of temptations and his natural or outer mind has been purified can he have the inmost love to the Lord, present in his outer thought and memory, without the danger of mixing the pure thoughts of his inner man with the impure emotions of his outer man and thus of profaning them.
Pharaoh seeing Sarai to be beautiful signifies delight in the knowledges of truth, which captivate the external mind. There are those who love to have knowledges of truth just for the sake of knowing them, without any other use. Every man in the beginning of spiritual life has a curiosity about spiritual knowledges which as yet has not as its end the inner Kingdom of God. Such curiosity or such mere desire to know is represented by Pharaoh and the Egyptians.
All truths have as their end or use the purification of the mind as a preparation for conjunction with God and for the sake of knowing how to serve God and our neighbor. If we become fascinated with acquiring more and more knowledges of truth, apart from their use of conjoining ourselves more closely with God and our neighbor, we come into the danger of being only in dry, outer shells of truth.
It is said that Jehovah smote Pharaoh with plagues. This signifies that dry knowledges of truth, which had not been made of use in increasing our love to the Lord and toward our neighbor, were destroyed.
In certain states we must love the knowledge of truth without any feeling for the end or objective of truth, namely, that it may serve the love of God and our neighbor; for in the first delight of merely knowing, a man learns to think intelligently. But if he stops here, his thinking dries up and he becomes what is called "merely a brain." Such a one is useless in the Kingdom of Heaven.
A man in this state must leave the useless dry knowledges for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven and return to the internal things of the spirit. This is signified by Abram's returning to the land of Canaan.
Although there is a danger of bogging down in mere knowledges, still the going down into Egypt that is the acquiring of knowledge is of essential importance for any advance. A child has to learn letters, words, and sentences before he can read and write, and his curiosity stimulates his efforts. It is only after he has acquired a facility in these things that he can understand the ideas in what he reads and writes and can express his thoughts and feelings in writing. It is the same in every science and art; a man commences with the love of the subject to which he wishes to devote himself and with the desire to develop or express something new, something of value to mankind, but he has first to concentrate on acquiring knowledge of the subject and perfecting his technique. Many, however, become so absorbed in the knowledge or technique that they lose sight of the original end they had in view. It is the same in matters of religion. A man, if he is to contribute anything of spiritual value to others, must acquire a knowledge of the Word of God and of theology; but if he becomes so absorbed in the knowledges that he loses sight of the end in view, namely, that such knowledge may serve God and his neighbor, he becomes lost.
It was similar with the Lord. He perfected Himself in the knowledges of the Word, even commencing in His childhood as is evident from His talking to the doctors in the temple when twelve years of age. But when He entered into His ministry, His love was solely for things useful for the salvation of the human race. His instruction in the letter of the Word was represented by His being brought into Egypt. The Lord at birth had a human inherited from Mary; as to this human He had to learn like any other child, and to grow in wisdom; but little by little, as He perfected His Human, by means of the Divine that was in Him, He expelled all the infirmities or weaknesses from His maternal heredity. In this way He glorified His Human, that is, made it Divine; until when He rose from the dead, His Human was purely Divine, entirely one with His Divine soul called the Father, one in Essence and one in Person.
In the thirteenth chapter of Genesis there is described the contention between the herdmen of Abram and the herd-men of Lot. Lot and his herdmen signify the pleasures of the external or lower mind, just as Pharaoh and the Egyptians signify the knowledges of the lower or outer mind. The leaving of Egypt signifies the leaving of knowledges that do not serve a genuine love of the Lord and of one's neighbor and are therefore dry and useless for man's spiritual life.
Leaving Lot signifies leaving pleasures that do not serve or minister to man's spiritual life. There are pleasures that serve the things of the spirit and pleasures that draw man away from the Kingdom of God. These two may appear similar or even the same, viewed from without, but they are opposite when seen from within. For example, consider the enjoyment of eating food. With those who make good food a primary thing of life and have their life to a degree centered in the enjoyment of the table, the pleasure of eating draws the mind away from the things of the spirit.
If, however, man's love is centered in the Lord, in the things of His Kingdom, and in love toward his neighbor, to enjoy eating together a well-prepared meal adds to the feeling of friendship and can serve love toward his neighbor.
Also in the arts, one who is concentrated on the sound of music or the color of paintings and centers his life on the sensual delights of such things is drawn away from the things of the spirit. But if one sees the arts as an expression of worship, or as an expression of the nobility of the human spirit, then the arts serve the things of the spirit. There is an ancient saying that the arts are the handmaidens of religion.
Until three or four hundred years ago, the great works of art were mostly religious art. This applies to Egypt, Greece, and the Orient, as well as to the Christian art of Europe. Art was made not to glorify man, but for the glory of God, and often, as in the instance of the great cathedrals, the names of the artists are not known.
Genuine nonreligious art gave expression to love toward one's neighbor. It gave expression to noble human ideals; it communicated a human feeling. The ugly was used to bring out the beautiful by contrast, or to arouse sympathy for those who suffered or had been misled. In modern times the prevailing saying is "Art for art's sake."
No great art has ever been inspired by this slogan, nor will it ever be. An art which does not communicate something of value, an idea or feeling of what the Divine or human is, is not art.
Many in the so-called artistic world are primarily interested in appearing cultured, in gaining a reputation, and in appearing up-to-date, and have very little real love of art, with the result that they seek out the latest novelty—the superficially striking—no matter how little it communicates of a normal noble feeling for what is Divine or human. A sick, ugly, and degenerate generation looks to a sick, ugly, and degenerate art, calling anything healthy and normal sentimental or naive. Nowadays, indeed, most objective art, particularly religious art, is excessively sweet and sentimental and is of no more value than the nonobjective art.
The same law which applies to the love of art applies also to the love of nature. Nature was created to manifest the love and wisdom of God, as is said in the Psalms: "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork." (Psalm 19:1.)
There is not the least good thing in creation that does not show forth or represent something of the Divine Love and Wisdom with its beauty and harmony. The sky, the mountains, every animal and plant, all are examples.
In ancient times, when men lived more in the order of life that God designed for man, and life was less artificial, there was a feeling and knowledge of what each thing of creation represented, and the Word is written throughout in accordance with such representations.
Nowadays there is only some little feeling remaining of this relation of the things of the body and the world to those of the spirit. Many people have a feeling that spring stands for a resurrection of the life of the spirit; that morning, with the rising of the sun, represents a coming of the Lord to man; that mountains signify that which is high and, thus, things that are elevated above the things of the world. Wherefore we read, "I will lift up mine eyes unto the mountains (not "hills," as in the King James translation), from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from Jehovah, which made heaven and earth." (Psalm 121:1, 2.) But as to the particular things that each animal signifies, with maybe the exception of the lamb and a few others, this knowledge has been lost.
The sophisticated and sensual man strongly resents the idea that every word in the Word of the Lord has a spiritual significance and that everything in creation corresponds to a spiritual idea or to some Divine or human affection, for such an idea threatens the center of his life, which resides in his conceit, in relation to his scientific ideas, and in his sensual delight in pleasures as such. He does not want to lift up his eyes to the mountains; he does not look to the Lord for help, for he trusts in himself and delights in his scientific or philosophic ideas and sensual pleasures. He will therefore combat against the above idea with all his might and with every argument at his disposal; for he does not wish to leave the life he is in, although he is aware at times of its emptiness. He cannot realize that all good pleasures can serve love to God and one's neighbor, and that when such pleasures serve these higher ends, man is far happier than he was before. The Lord Himself did not reject good pleasures, for He said: "The Son of man came eating and drinking." (Matthew 11:19.) But the Lord left all pleasures which did not serve His Divine purpose, nor did He care for pleasures merely for their own sake. He would not have mentioned that He came "eating and drinking" unless this had a spiritual significance, representing His spiritual eating and drinking. He said: "My meat is to do the will of him that sent me." (John 4:34.)
The fourteenth chapter of Genesis describes wars, which were waged first by Chedorlaomer and three other kings with him against five other kings, and then the war of Abraham against Chedorlaomer.
The Word of the Lord in its spirit or internal meaning cannot possibly describe wars between nations. For what have wars between nations to do with the Divine Love and Wisdom, which the Lord's Word reveals? All wars in the Word signify spiritual combats, that is, combats against the evil and the false, or against the power of hell. A man must carry on this combat in himself to become a spiritual conqueror and gain the crown of life. The Lord, when in the world, carried on such spiritual warfare in an infinitely greater way than others, overcoming the power of evil or hell and thus saving those in the human race who were willing to follow Him in fighting against the evil and false things in themselves and in the world.
That the Lord is a spiritual conqueror is evident from the book of Revelation, where we read:
And I saw, and behold a white horse and he that sat on him had a bow, and a crown . . . and he went forth conquering, and to conquer. (Revelation 6:2)
And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies ... in heaven followed him upon white horses. . . . And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that . . . should smite the nations: . . . And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. (Revelation 19:13-16)
It is to those who follow the Lord and conquer with Him that the Lord makes the promise, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne even as I ... overcame, and am set down with My Father in His throne." (Revelation 3:21.)
Why is it that so much of the Old Testament describes wars between nations? Why do internal things which are those of the spirit have to be described in a letter in which cruelties and at times unjust and apparently trivial or even indecent things are recounted?
In the Arcana Coelestia the following reasons are given: The Word had to be written so that all, even children and the most simple, can have some idea; and on account of the fallen state of the human race, the Word of the Lord in its letter had to be written in accommodation to the world as it is. This is represented in the thirty-second chapter of Exodus by the story of Moses breaking the tables of stone on which the Ten Commandments were written. The first "tables were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God." But after Moses, on seeing the people worshipping the golden calf, broke the tables of stone on which were written the Ten Commandments, he was told to "hew . . . two tables of stone like unto the first," and Jehovah said: "I will write upon these tables the words that were in the first tables." (Exodus 32:16; 34:1.)
A golden calf stands for natural good works, that is, all good works which are done not from a real love of God or one's neighbor but for the sake of being seen of men; also all worship, or sacrifice, made in a spirit of vanity—thus, all things which are done for the sake of reward either here or in heaven. Because the Children of Israel, and the human race in general, had come to worship such appearances of good, an external good for the sake of one's own glory with no real internal of love to God and one's neighbor, the Word of God had to be written in accommodation to such a state of the human race and of the Israelitish church.
The tables of stone signify the literal sense of the Word and also the externals of the church and of worship.
If the Israelitish church had not been such that they would worship the golden calf, the Word of God would have been written differently and they would have had a different kind of worship. They would not have made the chief thing of their worship the sacrifice of animals. The Word would not have described cruelties, wars between nations, or immoral deeds. Jehovah would not have been said to be angry or jealous, or to have commanded wars and cruelties. But the letter would have been pure and beautiful, obviously in harmony with its internal sense or spirit. The written Word of God, free from all such cruelties, is represented by the tables which were the work of God, which were broken. But the tables which Moses hewed signify the literal sense of the Word, such as it is in the Word as we have it. Yet it is said that "the writing was the writing of God," and was the same writing as on the tables made by God, which were broken. This signifies that the internal of the Word is the same now as it would have been if the Israelites had not been in the state represented by the worship of the golden calf.
The following illustration will make this clear. It is frequently said that Jehovah God is angry; whereas Jehovah God is infinite Divine Love and Mercy, far above anything resembling anger. Yet on account of the fallen state of the human race, God has to appear angry for the sake of the reformation of man. This may be compared to a wise father out of love telling his children that he is very angry on account of something bad that they have done. It is obvious in this case that the word "anger" stands for the father's love of his children and his hope of their improvement, and is the outward expression of such love. We return now to the wars in the fourteenth chapter of Genesis. In their internal sense the combats described are against evil and false things and are those the Lord waged, when in the world, for the sake of man's salvation. They represent also the spiritual warfare of those who follow the Lord.
In the beginning, five kings, after serving Chedorlaomer for twelve years, rebelled. Chedorlaomer and three other kings with him then smote the five kings and other nations.
The four kings, including Chedorlaomer, signify apparently good and true things. There are two kinds of things which are apparently good and true. There are apparently good and true things done by hypocrites who do good deeds and speak what is true solely for the sake of their personal reputation and often use this as a means of hiding their sinister ends. Then there are apparently good and true things that children and simple people do who act with good intentions but often unwisely, with the result that what they do does more harm than good in the long run.
Anything good or true is an apparent good or truth if it stems from a certain pride in which the heart does not acknowledge that a man can do nothing good and can be in nothing of truth as to his spirit unless it is given him from heaven, or if the Lord's words are not believed: "As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me." (John 15:4.)
The appearance that we can do good and think truth by following our own ideas is so strong that it is with great difficulty, and only after many spiritual experiences, that we can come actually to realize fully that we cannot do any good or think anything true from our heart that is not given us from the Lord out of heaven.
When a man is progressing toward the Kingdom of Heaven, he must do all in his power to think the truth and to do what is right; and if he does this from conscience and duty, such things are accepted as being good and true. They are not, however, the good and the true itself until he has advanced to the state in which he perceives from the heart that all the good he does and all the true he thinks is from the Lord and not from himself. In the meantime he must act with all his might to do what is right, with the feeling that he is doing this from himself, until he can come to the perception that nothing is good and true that has not been given him by the Lord.
In every new state, man is in a state of peace, in which his hereditary evils are not active. A little child is in no spiritual struggles. In the first stage of marriage things are usually peaceful and one's innate selfishness does not manifest itself. When a person first comes to a church, if he does it with all his heart he has a period of delight and peace, and this is also true of the state when man is reborn as a spiritual child. As we have stated, Abram when he first enters the Land of Canaan represents the Lord's early childhood. He also represents the spiritual childhood when man is first reborn. The rebirth of man internally seen is the birth of the Lord in man's inner mind or in his heart
The twelve years wherein the five kings served Chedorlaomer stand for the early states in which man is in peace, for then his innate inclination or hereditary evil things do not rise up and disturb the peaceful new state that the man has come into.
The time comes, however, when the selfish things in man rebel against the good and true things he has been given, and he must fight. In this state, because he has not yet come to the living feeling or perception that all that is good and all that is true is the Lord's with him, he fights from the apparent good and true things he is in against the obviously evil, selfish, and false things that rise up in the mind. A man in this state fights against the things of hatred, revenge, cunning, and deceit which rise up to tempt him, although the true and good things from which he fights are not yet the genuine good and the truth itself, but apparent good and truth. In this battle Lot is carried away. Lot represents the outer mind or the sensual part of the mind, that part of the mind which is formed by those things which enter directly from the bodily senses.
Lot in the best sense signifies the sensual truth which "consists in seeing all earthly and worldly things as being created . . . for a purpose, and in all things whatsoever a certain image of God's kingdom." (Arcana Coelestia, Number 1434.)
When Lot's herdmen are quarreling with Abram's herd-men and Abram and Lot have to separate, as we have said, Lot then stands for pleasures which do not agree with a genuine love to the Lord and toward one's neighbor. Here when Lot is carried off by Chedorlaomer and the kings with him, he stands for the external or outer mind; this was done under the appearance that man, in his warfare against the evil and the false, had overcome by his own power or ability. Abram's going to the rescue of Lot and overcoming Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him signify that the inner or internal mind perceives that it is solely from the power of the Lord that man has won in his spiritual warfare; and that from this inner perception he rescues the lower mind, represented by Lot, from the appearance that it has power to overcome evil and do good of itself. After this warfare a blessing is given by the Lord: Melchizedek blesses Abram—that is, man comes into the joy of the things of the Lord's Kingdom.
Man must fight against evil and falsity as if of himself, but he must acknowledge that it is the presence of the Lord with him which alone brings the victory. Man's warfare against the power of evil and false things is relatively very little compared to the Lord's combats against evils and falsities and the hells that inspired them. The Lord executed a great judgment not only on the church into which He was born, but also a judgment on the church in the spiritual world. He said: "Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me." (John 12:31, 32.) "For judgment I am come into this world." (John 9 :39.) "I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven." (Luke 10:18.)
Note that it was after the judgment, that is, the overcoming of the power of hell represented by Satan, that the Lord was lifted up, that is, was glorified, or became Divine entirely one with the Father, one in Essence and one in Person.
In the Gospels little is said about the judgment and of the casting down of the hells which had penetrated into heaven; but in the Old Testament all the descriptions of warfare signify the Lord's combats with the hells and His victory over them, by which He reestablished order and made it possible for men to be saved. If He had not come and overcome, the hells would have prevailed and there would have been no possible salvation for mankind.
In all the chapters we are considering there are innumerable particulars or details described in the Arcana Coelestia which we can hardly touch upon here. In fact, there is an infinity of wisdom, signified by the words: "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written." (John 21:25.)
Every word in the book of Genesis and every word in the Arcana Coelestia by Emanuel Swedenborg opens to Infinity, and can be seen in deeper meanings and with increased inspiration and wonderment both in heaven and earth to all eternity.
We read in the Arcana Coelestia,: "These are some of the things set forth in this chapter, but those set forth here are but few. ... If anyone could know how many arcana each particular verse contains he would be amazed, for the number of arcana is past telling." (Numbers 166 and 167.) Not only Genesis itself, but the explications of it in the Arcana Coelestia, contain an infinity of truth not set forth obviously—that is, they do not appear in the unopened letter.
The letter of the Word contains all Divine Truth in the same way that the things of creation contain all the laws of nature. But little of the inner laws and structure of nature is obvious to the five bodily senses. It has taken many generations of scientists to come to the understanding of nature that we have arrived at. To have an idea of the hidden things of creation, instruments, like the magnifying glass, the microscope, and many others, had to be invented. To penetrate to the internal of the Word of the Lord, there must come into existence doctrines whereby its internals can be seen, as a microscope enables us to see those things not visible to the unaided eye.
How many learned, sophisticated theologians there are who do not believe in the Bible as purely the Word of God, of which one jot or tittle cannot pass till all is fulfilled! They try to find God in their science or in their subjective experiences alone, and they doubt that God has fully revealed Himself in His written Word, not realizing that the Word contains Infinite Truth which, except for His Hands and Face, are still veiled by the letter.
In the fifteenth chapter of Genesis Abram complains that he is childless and that Eliezer, the steward of his house, is his heir, and he is then promised a son.
In relation to the Lord, this signifies that the Lord saw that, after its combats with temptation, the church He came to form was a church only in external love, faith, and worship, and that it did not look primarily to the things of the Kingdom of God within but rather to the most external things of faith, charity, and life in the world. Such a looking to outward or external things of worship, faith, and works has characterized the fall of churches throughout history, including that of the Christian Church. The promise of a son is the promise that a church would arise that would center its love in the things of love, faith, and worship in the Kingdom of Heaven in the hearts of men.
Abram's complaint that he had no heir signifies the perception that man's outer or external mind directs itself to the outer world and does not look upward with all its strength to the formation of a Kingdom of Heaven in the inmost part of the heart, where the Lord can find a dwelling place.
Abram then asked how he was to know that his seed would inherit the land of Canaan, that is, the Kingdom of God that is within man. This signifies a doubt, on the part of the Lord, on seeing the character of the human race, as to whether such a pure, internal church could be formed in the human race; and on the part of man, a doubt whether such a pure, internal church could be formed in himself.
Then there was given a terrible vision of great darkness, with a furnace of smoke and a burning torch, signifying the false things and the selfish things, the hatreds, revengefulness, deceits, and hypocrisy that the human race, the church, and the man of the church were coming into.
But before this, Abram was commanded to take a heifer, a she-goat, and a ram and a turtledove and a young pigeon, and to divide each animal, with one part on one side and the other half on the other over against each other, but not to divide the birds.
The animals signify the things pertaining to love to God and one's neighbor, or what we call celestial things, whereas the birds stand for the things of faith or spiritual things.
All things of genuine love are from the Lord to man, and then return from man to the Lord. Thus there is a parallelism between the things of love on the part of man and on the part of the Lord, but there is not a similar parallelism and correspondence in relation to the truths of faith as first taken up from the Word and the church from without by reading or hearing the Word or the teachings of the church.
The reason is that the truths of faith as taken up from without, that is, by the reading of the Word of the Lord, or from instruction by the church, are in obscurity, and many doubtful or even false ideas are mixed with the truth. Man is uncertain of his opinions as to what is true, and he observes that there are many opinions in the church as to what is true, with little agreement, and this adds to his obscurity; for passages in the Word are interpreted one way by this man and another way by that one.
The truths in the Word of the Lord are pure, Divine truths; but as taken up by man, from reading of the Word, they are not pure truths but are opinions, because at first they are not seen in a clear light of heaven. Nevertheless these truths are of such a nature that by them, if the man is sincere, a conscience can be formed by influx from the Lord.
A man who has lived according to a conscience formed by his opinion of truth as taken up from without can come subsequently into a state in which he is given a "perception, internal dictate, and conscience" from the Lord from within; that is, he can receive pure truths, as distinguished from the opinions he was in before. Such truths of faith, with one who has love to the Lord and toward his neighbor, are from the Lord and are represented by the ram which was divided. In the Arcana Coelestia it is said of the ram that "it is faith in which is charity, or faith . . . begotten by charity." (Number 1824.)
There are few in the world, and there are few even in what is called the Swedenborgian Church, who believe that such pure truths, that are from within from the Lord by a perception and internal dictate, can be given to man when he is reading and meditating on the Word of the Lord; for they know only those things taken up from without, by reading, that form their uncertain opinions.
The Lord underwent the grievous temptation of seeing the terrible evils and falsities that were taking possession of the human race: evils that were signified by the sun going down, the thick darkness, the furnace of smoke, and the torch of fire. He underwent the most grievous suffering a suffering far more grievous than any man could endure. After such suffering He was granted consolation.
The Lord suffered far more than any man ever did or could because He had an infinite love for the human race, and His suffering was in accordance with the ardor of His love. The more one loves, the greater his suffering when he sees the evil that overtakes the one who is loved; wherefore, when the Lord saw the evils and falsities that threatened the damnation of the human race, His suffering was unbelievably severe. The consolation was the promise from the Divine within Him that an internal church would be raised up, signified by the words "Unto thy seed will I give this land" (Genesis 24:7), that is, the heavenly Canaan, or an internal church.
The consolation of the Lord after temptations is spoken of in the Gospels, where we read, after the temptation in the wilderness: "Then the devil leaveth him, and behold, angels came and ministered unto him" (Matthew 4:11), and after the temptation in Gethsemane, where He was in agony, we read: "And there appeared an angel unto him . . . strengthening him." (Luke 22:43.)
The Lord's consolation was that He was given to foresee that an internal church would arise in accordance with His desire.
In the sixteenth chapter of Genesis the conception and birth of Ishmael are treated of, along with, later, the flight of Hagar from her mistress Sarai. Sarai was barren, and she gave Hagar, her handmaid, to Abram in order that she might have a son. Such an act is not according to a true order, but it was done according to the custom of the times. The wonderful thing is that the Lord used such things in His Word to represent wonderful things in the glorification of His Human and the regeneration of man.
Abram signifies the internal man as to the good of love to the Lord; and Sarai, the internal man or mind as to the true of faith: these make man's heaven, whence there is an influx of spiritual life into man's external mind, whereby he acts in the world. Sarai being barren signifies that as yet there was no influx of truth from the Kingdom of God within man that could give birth to a truly rational understanding of the Word.
Hagar, the Egyptian, signifies a love of the knowledges of the Word as taken into the mind by the bodily senses, that is, by reading and hearing. By an influx of the Lord's love or life into our love for the things of the literal sense of the Word a new thing is born in the mind. This new thing is signified by Abram coming to Hagar and Ishmael's birth. This new thing signified by Ishmael is called in the Arcana Coelestia "the exterior rational." An interior rational is represented by Isaac, born later to Abraham and Sarah.
In the Arcana Coelestia the "rational" has a distinct meaning different from the meaning in ordinary English. In ancient Greece it was said that man was a rational animal. Man differs from animals in that he is born with the ability to become rational. The rational faculty distinguishes a man from a mere animal. It enables him to view things contrary to their appearance to the bodily senses. The rational faculty enables a man to see relations, especially the relation of cause and effect, and therefore confers on him the ability to adapt means to an end.
Every man of normal intelligence has a kind of scientific rational. For example, one can see that the sun is the center of the solar system and that the earth turns on its axis although this is contrary to the evidence of the bodily eye. All scientific discoveries are based on what might be called a "scientific rational"; yet such things are not the rational proper, for they are all on the plane of the material world, whereas the rational proper that makes a man to be a man, truly above the plane of the animal, is due to his ability to rise into the plane of the spirit. He who has in him the Kingdom of God and from this Kingdom looks down on the kingdom of the world, both within himself and outside himself, is rational; he has a spiritual life above the mind that he has in common with animals. One who has come to this plane sees the relation between the things of the spirit and the knowledges of the body and the world. He sets for himself goals different from and often contrary to those of one who follows his natural inclinations or desires. He is therefore truly a man and not just an animal who can speak and contrive things in relation to the natural world. He also can see the difference between the spirit or internal sense of the Word of the Lord and its literal sense, as well as the relation between these two.
As long as man reads or hears only the things of the literal sense of the Word and obeys them but does not rise above these to the Kingdom of God that the Lord said was within him, man is not properly rational, although he may be on his way to becoming rational.
As we have said, Hagar represents the affection for or love of the things of the sense of the letter of the Word as seen from without, with obedience to it. Into this affection there is an influx from God out of man's internal mind or from the Kingdom of God within, raising him up and giving him a conscious view of things above the plane of the literal sense of the Word. Thus the first or external rational mind is formed, represented by Ishmael; later the second or internal rational, represented by Isaac, can be formed in man.
Concerning these two rationals the following is said in the Arcana Coelestia:
The first rational can be conceived only from the influx of the internal man into the affection of the knowledges of the external man; and can be born only from the affection of knowledges of the external man. . . . But the second or Divine rational is not thus conceived and born; but through the conjunction of the truth of the internal man [Sarah] with the good of the same [Abraham] and of the influx ... of the good into [this] truth. (Number 2093)
Nowadays men are so occupied with the things of this world that very few even in the "New Church" (Swedenborgian) ever come to the first rational, represented by Ishmael, and scarcely anyone reaches the second rational, represented by Isaac, that rational which descends as to both the good things of love and the true things of faith from the Lord out of the Kingdom of Heaven within man, on the basis of man's living according to the truths of the Word taken up from without, by direct reading. There are relatively many who read or hear the Word of God, and the teachings of the church, but who do not deeply reflect or meditate on the meaning or spirit of what they read or hear.
Such have a knowledge of the Word, but do not yet have what is meant in the Arcana Coelestia by the first or Ishmael rational. Some even have a very extensive knowledge of the Word, and are able to reason about it most acutely and still lack the Ishmael rational, whereas others with less knowledge and a less-sharp reasoning faculty, but who delight in meditating on the Word, may have the spiritual rational represented by Ishmael.
When the first rational, "Ishmael," is born in man, man sees the truths of faith in a new way; he feels them as his own and desires to be independent in relation to the truths he has acquired. He does not realize that he will lose the truths he has gained if there is not a continual influx of truths conjoined to the good of love from the Lord out of the Kingdom of Heaven within.
The fact that the rational at this stage of man's development lightly esteems the Divine Truths in the inner mind, which is above the rational, is signified by Hagar despising her mistress, the internal man, which is above. Wherefore when the inmost mind disciplines and subjugates the rational, the rational becomes indignant and tries to flee from the power of the true that is above it so as to lead its own independent life, apart from the truths of the Holy Spirit. In the story of Genesis this is represented by Hagar, now carrying Ishmael, fleeing from Sarah. Man in this state has a conscience, and he hears a voice warning him that his rational must return and submit itself to the influx of truth from the Lord coming from the inner man within him. This is represented by the angel speaking to Hagar and telling her to return and humble herself before Sarai.
In recent times in what is called "existentialism," many have centered their attention on man as the important thing and have turned away from materialism and the concentration on the material world. But in trying to find the nature of the subjective man, they have wandered into all kinds of obscure and often fanciful ideas as to what man really is. In the Word of the Lord the whole nature of man is revealed, yet it remains hidden until the veils of the letter of the Word are removed.
Man's soul and mind are a complex thing more complex than the body; in fact, there is nothing in the body that does not correspond to something in the soul and mind. The soul and mind have their ears, eyes, nostrils, touch, heart, and every other part that the body has, and man is in the image and likeness of God. Wherefore in the Word of God it speaks of the eyes, arms, hands, and other like implements of God—not that God has material or spatial eyes, ears, arms, or hands.
Man is also the result of development and growth. If he develops, he is born again, a long and wonderful process; the Lord comes to man, and man is conjoined with the Lord.
We read in John: "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God." (John 1:12.) When a man has been born again from the Lord, he becomes a son of God and is a new man, entirely different from what he was before; it makes no sense to investigate the question of what man is unless we make the distinction between what man is when he has become a son of God and what he was before.
The very brief outline we are giving here contains but a hundredth part of what is stated openly in the Arcana Coelestia, and is as but a cup of water compared to the ocean of what is hidden in the description of the spiritual growth and development of mana description of an inner life whereof most men know nothing and, alas, are desirous of knowing nothing, for they are too busy with the business and pleasures of the world to care.
In the twentieth chapter of Genesis, as in the twelfth chapter, a famine is spoken of that is, a lack of knowledge. Abram in the twelfth chapter goes to Egypt; that is, in the highest sense, the Lord, and in a lesser sense the man who is being regenerated, is instructed in the obvious teachings of the Word, the outer knowledges, or the things of the letter of the Word.
In the twentieth chapter there is again represented a lack of knowledge, but this time a lack of inner knowledge concerning the doctrinal things of charity and faith that are hidden in the inner recesses of the Word.
Abraham goes to Abimelech, king of Gerar in Philistia. Abimelech represents or stands for the doctrine of faith which looks to rational things or is the result of viewing things rationally. Sarah as a sister represents the rational truth, and Sarah as a wife represents the truth that belongs to the Kingdom of Heaven, the truth that is above the rational and is married to the Divine good of love.
Abimelech's regarding Sarah as a sister signifies the desire to consult the rational in regard to the truth of doctrine. Genuine doctrine or teaching comes from a perception that an idea drawn from the Word of the Lord is true, that it is a truth seen in the light of heaven. When a man sees such a truth, he sees it by inspiration. For such an idea to take form, it must descend into the rational mind, where a man grasps it as his own idea. If a man then from a certain pride begins to reason about it too much, the truth is often brought into doubt, becomes null and empty, and may even be rejected. A man must realize that his perception of truth is given him from above, that the ability 'to perceive a truth in the Word grows out of his love to the Lord and is not merely a product of his rational faculty. Such a perception of truth is of Divine origin or essence the truth is a thing which God has given him to see.
Because of his pride a man likes to put his trust in his rational ability to find and know what is true. Yet if he has a certain humility, he somewhat fears to trust solely in his rational ability, and he hears the voice of the Lord saying: "Behold thou wilt die because of the woman whom thou hast taken, for she is married to a husband" (verse 3). That is, if he were just to trust in his rational faculty, the Doctrine would become null and void.
Genuine Doctrine or teaching is indeed rational, and is in the rational faculty of man; but if the rational faculty is not an inspired rational, the truth is not accepted as genuine truth, for truth in the rational mind is not a product of the rational mind, but is inspired by God out of heaven into the rational.
The Lord, when in His Human nature on earth, in a Divine way was far above men, yet he went through this experience and struggle. And man, if he is to progress, must go through a corresponding struggle in an image of the Lord's life while on earth.
Also, the genuine and living Church, as a greater or greatest man, goes through a similar struggle and thus comes to a genuine doctrine or understanding of the Word of the Lord. In the Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture, by Emanuel Swedenborg, it is said:
The Church is from the Word and is according to the understanding of it with man. . . . There are those who believe that they are of the Church because they have the Word, read it or hear it from a preacher and know something of its sense of the letter, yet how this or that in the Word is to be understood, they do not know, and some of them little care. . . . The Word is the Word according to the understanding of it in man. . . . If it is not understood the Word is indeed called the Word, but it is not the Word with man. . . . The Word is spirit and life according to the understanding of it, for its letter if not understood is dead. ... As a Church exists by means of faith and love, and according to them, it follows that a church is the church through the understanding of the Word ... ; a noble church if in genuine truths, an ignoble church if not in genuine truths, and a destroyed church if in falsified truths. (Numbers 76 and 77)
There is always the danger that a man or the church may make false doctrine and think he or it has received such doctrine by inspiration of God, when yet it is false, and it is asked how it can be known whether the doctrine or teaching of the church or of the individual man is true or false. If a man has real humility and approaches the Lord with an earnest prayer for enlightenment, he can be given to see clearly whether the doctrine or teaching is true or not. As long as vanity or pride rules in a man, he will say that we have to trust in our rational ability to decide what is true; and as man's unaided ability is limited, he regards all truth as being merely a matter of human opinion.
The question as to how one could know whether a doctrine was true or not was put to the Lord by the Jews; to this question the Lord replied: "My doctrine is not mine but His that sent Me. If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself. He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory; but he that seeketh His glory that sent him, the same is true." (John 7:16-18.)
The Lord in saying: "My doctrine is not mine but His that sent Me" means that His Doctrine was not from the human He took on in the world through Mary, but from the Divine Itself which was in himHis very soul from His conception, which is called the Father. It was not the human He took from Mary whose glory the Lord sought, but the glory of the Divine Itself that was in Him; this was the origin of His Doctrine, and He taught that if any man did the will of God, he could know whether the Doctrine was of God or not. If a man does not do the will of God, he can never know if a doctrine is false or true; but the Lord taught that if man did the will of God, then he could know. Knowing is immensely more than merely having an opinion.
The Lord promised that if a man did the will of the Father, he would know of the Doctrine whether it be of God; but to do the will of God involves much. It involves keeping the Lord's Commandments, of which we have treated above.
The Lord said that He was sent, but He was sent in such a way that He was not separated from the Father within Him. As to the human nature He took on, there was a kind of separation from His soul, which gives the appearance of two natures, before He completely glorified the Human and rose again as completely one with the Father, one in Essence and one in Person.
In an infinite sense, in relation to the Lord, it is said: "He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory; but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true." In a limited or finite sense this has an application to man. The Lord said to His disciples, "I send you forth" (Matthew 10:16), and the disciples did not seek their glory but the glory of Him that sent them. The Lord was the very truth Itself. The disciples were not the truth, but they were in the true way, the truth which the Lord gave them. A man now, if he advances to the state described in the inner sense of the twentieth chapter of Genesis, can also be sent by the Lord and can testify that the Doctrine is not his but is the Lord's who sent him.
This idea opens the possibility of men becoming religious fanatics, of their coming into the fantasy that they are sent by God when they are merely talking fantasies of all kinds, and there is therefore a certain natural fear of such ideas, for "false Christs and false prophets," of whom the Lord said that they would deceive many, are far more common than true prophets.
A prophet, as spoken of in the Old Testament, was one through whom the Word was given; but when the Lord spoke of false prophets who would arise, He referred to those who make false doctrine, whereas the true prophet is one who teaches true doctrine.
The Lord referred to those teaching false doctrine when He said: "This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoreth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men." (Isaiah 29:13, Matthew 15: 8,9.)
The sophisticated will never accept the idea that doctrine is given to men by God, but, like the Jewish leaders of old, they are averse to anyone speaking with authority, as it is said: "The people were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes." (Matthew 7:28, 29.)
Because there are many fanatics who claim an authority . for their teaching that is false, and this causes intelligent persons to be very careful and hesitant in accepting any of those who claim unique inspiration, this is no reason for denying the possibility that a man can be inspired in his understanding of the Word of the Lord. Certainly, if a man is not inspired, he will have no true understanding.
The great majority will either, like the sophisticated, desire to have only the opinions or doctrines of men; or they will, like the literalists, stick to the letter and never come to any understanding of the spirit of the Word. The mere literalist, although protected from the fantasies of crazy interpretations of the Word, still remains in the deadness of the letter alone. Those who believe in the interpretation inspired by the Lord's spirit are in danger of accepting "false Christs and false prophets"; still, if they have a living faith, they will trust in the words of the Lord quoted above: "If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God."
It is often thought that the attitude opposite to sophistication is naivete, or credulousness. A wise man is neither sophisticated nor naive or credulous when a new idea or doctrine arises. He believes that God can manifest Divine Truth to man, but he very carefully examines it with prayer to see whether it be of God or of man. He tries to remove all prejudices from his habits of thought, to see with an open mind whether the idea be true or not. Not loving mere novelty, he is not hasty to accept any idea that comes along, for he has no ambition to be among the avant-garde; nor will he hastily reject new ideas, knowing that it often takes much reflection and meditation to see whether a thing is true or not. He must question habits of thought which he has acquired. He waits with the prayer that he may be enlightened and see clearly whether it is true or false. He knows that Divine truth must appear to him as rational; but he also knows that the rational mind cannot clearly see truth unless it is enlightened by God, and that if the rational mind does not look to the Lord for enlightenment, it turns away to things which are irrational in the sight of heaven no matter how rational they may appear to a materialist or to one prejudiced by the rut his mind has slipped into. No man is truly rational who is not regenerated or born again, for before regeneration man is in the obscure light of the things of the world, whereas a man who is being regenerated sees in the light that comes from the Lord, who, as it is written, is "the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world." (John 1:9.) But many "loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." (John 3:19.)
Note that it is the teaching of the Lord that it is not the ability to reason cleverly that enables a man to distinguish between spiritual truth and falsity, but whether one does the will of God (John 7:16-18) or whether one's "deeds are evil." This the sophisticated will never accept.
A man who accepts the teaching of the Lord, if he is in doubt as to whether a thing is true, will question his attitude toward God as to whether it is right or wrong, knowing that if his heart is purified he can be given the light to see, as is said in the Ten Blessings, "Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God." (Matthew 5:8.)
We have treated of certain things of the twentieth chapter in relation to the spiritual development of man, but we shall now quote from the Arcana Coelestia a number in its application to the Lord.
In the internal sense of the Word the Lord's whole life is described, such as it was to be in the world, even as to the perceptions and thoughts, for these were foreseen and provided because from the Divine. . . . As regards the Lord's life itself, it was a continual progression of the Human to the Divine, even to absolute union, . . . for in order that he might combat with the hells and overcome them, He must needs do it from the Human; for there is no combat with the hells from the Divine. It therefore pleased Him to put on the human like another man, to be an infant like another, to grow up into sciences and cognitions [that is into outer and inner knowledges] which things were represented by Abraham's sojourning in Egypt (Chapter 12) and now in Gerar; thus it pleased Him to cultivate the rational as another man, and in this way to disperse its shade, and bring it into light, and this from His own power. That the Lord's progression from the Human to the Divine was of this nature, can be denied by no one if he only considers that He was a little child and learned to talk like one, and so on. But there was this difference: that the Divine Itself was in Him, seeing that He was conceived of Jehovah. (Number 2523)
In the Arcana Coelestia, the word "celestial" signifies the inmost love to the Lord, a state in which a man, as to his whole heart, soul, mind, and strength, is directed to the Lord, and all things of his life are qualified by this love. The word "spiritual" signifies all the truth man perceives from having such a love. From the marriage of this love and truth, the internal rational represented by Isaac is born—a new faculty of the mind, a rational mind that only those who are being regenerated or born again have. This faculty is the inmost of the human; what is above it is the Divine Good and truth. With the Lord, the Divine love and wisdom itself was what is called in the Word "the Father"; the Human, when glorified and made one with the Divine, is called "the Son."
We shall now consider the following verses:
And it came to pass after these things, that God did tempt Abraham. . . . And he said, Take . . . thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest. and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. ...
And Abraham took the wood of the burnt offering, and laid it upon Isaac his son; and he took the fire in his hand, and a knife; and they went both of them together.
And Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father: and he said, Here am I, my son. And he said, Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?
And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering. . . . And Abraham built an altar there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Isaac his son, and laid him on the altar upon the wood. . . . And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me.
And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold ... a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. (Genesis 22:1,2,6-13)
Each word in the above has a significance, but to explain each word, and why each word has the significance it has, as explained in the Arcana Coelestia by Swedenborg, would go beyond the purpose of this book. We shall here confine ourselves to giving a general idea of the subject.
If we accept the idea that the whole of the Old Testament involves a prophecy of the Lord's life, it is evident that the chapter we are considering stands for or represents the Lord's most grievous temptations, even to the passion of the cross.
In the first verse of the chapter, we read: "God did tempt Abraham." It is self-evident that God, who is Divine Love and Wisdom Itself, could never tempt anyone, and still less tempt a man to slay his son. Nothing but the evil and the false can tempt man: hell, called the Devil, is the tempter; yet all things are under the rule of the Divine Providence. God permits evil for certain reasons, including man's free choice, but He turns evil to some good purpose. Because children and simple people cannot distinguish between a thing which is of the Lord's will or good pleasure and what the Lord permits, and yet it is important to believe that all things are under the Lord's government, the letter of the Word speaks of God's tempting, and of His becoming angry and punishing; but in the internal sense or spirit of the Word, by such expressions nothing is signified but God's love and mercy.
By Abraham is signified the Internal Divine essence in the Lord, called the Father; Isaac stands for or represents the inmost of the Lord's Human. The inmost of the human is the inner rational mind that, when inspired by the Holy Spirit, perceives Divine Truths. Before treating of the Lord, we shall say something about this story as it applies to man. If a man is born again, he comes to a perception of Divine Truths; nevertheless there are falsities and fallacies that adjoin themselves to his rational mind. Man's mind is to be sanctified. He has to, as it were, let his rational mind, represented by Isaac, die that it may be united to his soul, wherein the Lord is present. Man must be willing to give up his rational, and after temptations even to despair, he is given a new rational mind, which is a mind inspired by the Lord. The altar to which man brings his rational thinking and feeling is the Divine Human of our Lord. The fire on the altar is the Divine Love. The wood is the merit of our Lord. The knife is the Divine Truth, whereby that which is not genuine dies. All that is merely human, growing out of pride and the conceit of man's own intelligence, must be put away. This takes place imperfectly with man, but with the Lord it took place fully and with Infinite perfection, so that He became God even as to His Human. He put off all the weaknesses of His heredity front Mary, a putting off finally completed on the cross when He said, "It is finished," or "It is fulfilled."
Abraham was commanded to go to the land of Moriah, that is, to Jerusalem, where our Lord endured the most grievous temptations. That the mount which Abraham and Isaac went to was the site whereon Jerusalem later arose is clear from II Chronicles, where we read: "Then Solomon began to build the house of the Lord at Jerusalem in mount Moriah." (3:1.)
"Isaac spake unto Abraham his father, and said, My father, and he said, Here am I, my son." These words signify the conference of the Divine Truth with the Divine Good in the Lord, or, as expressed in the New Testament, of the Son with the Father.
Love can work only through wisdom or truth. Love without wisdom can do nothing. A man who truly loves his neighbor seeks for wisdom and truth so that his love may go forth and serve others. Love without the truth of wisdom is blind and does more harm than good. The harm that a foolish love may do is well known. The Lord's love, which was the
Father, loved the Divine Rational or the Son, by which He was to save the human race. As the Lord said several times in John, "The Father loveth me."
To have an idea about the temptation treated of in this chapter, consider how you would feel if you were told that you had to give up your rationality completely because it leads you into human errors. A man would feel in this case that if he did this, he would become a useless and worthless creature. If he were told that, by giving up his own rational, ,he could come into a new and sanctified rational, he would scarcely believe it. There is in such case a great temptation to let one's rational abilities die, as it were, in order to have them sanctified and raised up to a new life.
The Lord saw that it was by His Divine Rational or the Divine Human that He was to save the human race; but when He received the command to have His rational as it were die, and finally the whole of His Human destroyed on the cross, so that His Human could be sanctified on the altar and rise again, He prayed that "this cup might pass from" Him and, in His agony, He "sweat as it were drops of blood."
This great suffering which the Lord underwent was not for Himself, for He did not love Himself. His only love was the love of the salvation of the human race. He suffered because, in the obscurity He was in, He did not see how, if He gave up His Human to death, the human race could be saved.
This is also involved in the words of Isaac to his father, "Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb [or kid] for a burnt offering?" (verse 7). That is, there was the warmth of love and the merit represented by the fire and wood, but where were those in the human race who could be sanctified, that is, formed into an internal or spiritual Church ? A man who has a great love for the salvation of the human race and sees how far removed the race is from an inner spiritual life also at times comes into states of corresponding despair.
Compare the words: "And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: . . . Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God" (22:11,12) with the words: "And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground." "And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him." (Luke 22:43,44.)
An angel signifies Divine consolation, for the angel did not speak from himself but from God.
"And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold ... a ram caught in a thicket by his horns; and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son." (Genesis 22:13.) A ram here signifies the spiritual men in the human race that the Lord came to sanctify and save. The ram being caught by his horns in a thicket signifies that they were entangled in external knowledges, so that they could not find their way. The ram's horns signify power; here, that they lacked power, because the horns were caught in a thicket. The Lord was "the way, the truth and the life." The Lord said, "The truth shall make you free." It was this freeing of those who were spiritual which was signified by Abraham taking the ram from the thicket.
The question may arise as to how it was possible for Abraham to believe that God would command him to sacrifice his son, when the sacrificing of sons is an abomination. In explanation of this, we read in the Arcana Coelestia by Emanuel Swedenborg, as follows:
To slay his son. That this signifies until whatever was from the merely human was dead, is evident from the internal sense of these words; for they signify the Lord's most grievous and inmost temptations, the last of which was that of the cross, in which it is evident that what was merely human also died. This could not be represented by Abraham's son or Isaac, because to sacrifice sons was an abomination; but it was represented so far as it could be, namely even to the attempt, but not to the act. Hence it is evident that by these words, "Abraham took the knife to slay his son," is signified until all that was merely human was dead.
That it was known from the most ancient time that the Lord was to come into the world, and was to suffer death, is evident from the fact that the custom prevailed among the Gentiles of sacrificing their sons, believing that they were thus purified, and propitiated to God; in which abominable custom they could not have placed their most important religious observance, unless they had learned from the ancients that the Son of God was to come, who would, as they believed, be made a sacrifice. To this abomination even the sons of Israel were inclined, and Abraham also; for no one is tempted except by that to which he is inclined. That the sons of Jacob were so inclined is evident in the Prophets; but lest they should rush into that abomination, it was permitted to institute burnt-offerings and sacrifices. (Number 2818)
In the chapter we have been considering, there are two persons, Abraham and Isaac. It is common in the Word of the Lord for various persons to represent or stand for different things in the mind of man. Thus, though Abraham and Isaac were two persons, they represent two things in the one person of our Lord; for the Father was in the Lord as our soul is in our mind and body. In the Gospels, it is sometimes clearly taught that the Father and Son are one Person; as when the Lord said that "I and my Father are one," for which saying, "the Jews took up stones again to stone Him." (John 10:30,31.)
Again, "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father. . . . Believest thou not that I am in the Father and the Father in Me?" (John 14:9,10.)
In other places, according to the sense of the letter, there is an appearance that the Father and Son are two Persons. And in this chapter that we have been considering, the Divine and the human of the Lord are represented by two Persons. On account of the appearance of two—called the Father and the Son—the Christian Church fell into the error of thinking that God was two Persons and, with the Holy Spirit, three Divine Persons. Yet it is impossible to think of God as being three Divine Persons without thinking of three Gods, no matter how much one says with the mouth that there is one God.
 Jacob and Esau
From the Divine good or the Divine love of the rational represented by Isaac and Rebecca, a new natural mind and life are born, represented by Jacob and Esau.
This is an entirely new natural mind; that is, it is a new natural mind in relation to all things of life in the world. When this is born, man leads a totally different kind of life, a life which in all things looks to the Kingdom of God as its end.
This change may not be evident to others; it may not be clearly evident to the man himself. A man continues his work and his social relations, and even appears to enjoy his pleasures, as he did before. But in the sight of God and of heaven he has become a new man, for his ruling love is no longer directed to the things of the world, but to the things of the Kingdom of Heaven.
Jacob represents the natural or outer mind as to the truths of faith and Esau, this mind as to the goods of love. A conflict arises in the mind as to which is prior or superior, the truths of faith or the goods of love and charity. This conflict is represented first by the twins struggling in the womb, and then by Jacob stealing Esau's birthright and later his blessing.
The first thing of the church appears to be the truths of faith, for one who does not know and accept the truths of faith does not really belong to the church. But truth, by itself, has no life. In order for a man to accept the truths of faith from the heart, he must have a heart, that is, he must have some love, will, or desire that motivates him to accept the truth. If a man does not have some love, will, or desire for the truth, the truths of faith he may have been taught and may have in his memory are dead and lifeless mere knowledges in the outer memory that we call dead scientifics. It is therefore obvious that the good of love is the first-born or Esau.
Here we shall not consider the whole subject of Esau and Jacob, but shall confine ourselves to a consideration of certain things in relation to the blessing of Esau and Jacob.
The following is a summary account of the twenty-seventh chapter of Genesis:
Isaac, being old and blind, calls his elder son, Esau, to him to hunt for food and bring it to him, with the promise that he would then bless him. Rebecca, hearing what Isaac said, calls Jacob, and after calling Jacob sends him to get kids of the goats from the flock, and after making a savory dish, putting the garments of Esau on Jacob, and covering his neck and hands with the skins of the goats, sends him in to Isaac to receive a blessing.
Isaac, upon smelling the garments of Esau and feeling the skins—for Esau was a hairy man—says that the voice is the voice of Jacob but the hands are the hands of Esau; yet he blesses Jacob in place of Esau.
When Esau returns, having brought the dainties he had prepared, he finds that Jacob has stolen his blessing. Isaac had promised Jacob that he would be master of his brethren, and that his mother's sons would bow down to him.
Isaac then blesses Esau and in the blessing promises that the time would come that he, Esau, should have the dominion and break the yoke of his brother Jacob from off his neck.
One might well ask how such a story could occur in the Word of the Lord and what the use of such a story might be. If the Word did not have an inner sense, there would be no possible answers to these questions. As we have said, Isaac stands for or represents the rational mind open to heaven; Isaac, for the love or good in such a mind, and Rebecca, for the truth in such a mind.
If he is being regenerated, or born again, a man comes to see the truths of the Kingdom of Heaven in the Word. He sees the true things of doctrine in the light of heaven and he loves them. Thus his inner man or inner mind comes into the order of heaven. In this state a man realizes that his outer mind—the mind having to do with the world, and his wife, family, and social relations—must be brought into a new order, so that it may come to agree with, or correspond to, the new inner life that he has acquired.
Man's natural life in this world is the foundation of his spiritual life: "The Kingdom of God within you."
Many give all their attention and efforts to improving their external life and neglect the Kingdom of God; others give all their attention and efforts to the Kingdom of God and neglect the things of life of this world. The one is like a foundation without a house; the other is like what the Lord called a house built on sand. Both the former and the latter attitudes, as seen in the light of heaven, lead to useless lives.
The story we are considering describes the condition of one whose inner mind has been ordered but whose outer or natural mind is still in disorder; for the love of himself and the love of the things of this world are very powerful in his outer mind and life, and he does not see how he is to bring the outer mind and the things of his daily life in the world into an order corresponding to his inner mind. This obscurity as to how he is to live in the world is represented by the blindness of Isaac.
Isaac desires to bless Esau—to "bless" signifying to give to the lower mind the good and true things of life. Esau represents goods, that is, good will in the natural mind.
The true order of life is for love, or what is good, which is in man's Kingdom of Heaven, to flow into man's outer or external will, and thus to lead him in the way of life. Animals, which are born into the order of their life, know by instinct the way of their life, and this without instruction. If man were born into the order of his life, he would instinctively know the order of human life, and this spontaneously.
But man nowadays has not a human instinct corresponding to the instinct of animals. Man, unlike animals, having free choice, has over countless generations destroyed this instinctive order of life in himself. Man from his hereditary nature tends to be selfish, and to look primarily to the things of the world; he has lost the human instinct to stand spiritually erect and to look upward to the things of heaven. Man must therefore be instructed, trained, and disciplined if he is to become truly a man. He must learn the truths of faith and the laws of spiritual and natural life from others; he must first be disciplined by others and later discipline himself by living according to what he knows to be true.
A wise man is one who from good will immediately perceives the truths of life and, thus, how he should speak and act. He does not think, "I must say or do this because this is something I have been taught," but out of his love and experience he knows what is right and wrong and does what is right.
Isaac's wishing to bless Esau signifies a longing of the inner mind to bring the lower mind into such a spontaneous order of life in which man finds spontaneously the truths of natural life out of his love to the Lord and his neighbor. These truths are represented by the things that Esau hunted for food for his father.
The inner love represented by Isaac longs immediately for the end that man may come immediately to the things of wisdom. This is represented by Isaac calling Esau; but the inner truth of enlightenment represented by Rebecca sees that such an immediate coming to a spontaneous wisdom is not possible. Man must go through a long period of instruction and discipline according to truths of faith to come to this end. This is represented by Rebecca, who signifies the truth of the inner rational as she sends Jacob to receive the blessing of Isaac. Jacob here represents the teachings of doctrine according to which man is to live and discipline his outer life. Man must live and discipline his life for a long time before he acquires a second nature from which he can spontaneously speak and act wisely in all things.
Very few at this day arrive at such a state, but the Lord, whose life is described in the inmost sense of the Word, went through the states described here until He made all degrees of His mind purely Divine and even rose, unlike others, with a body made Divine.
We have said that the hunting of Esau represents the spontaneous truths of life which arise in man from his love of the Lord and his neighbor. These are from the Lord immediately and have flowed into him from the Lord.
The flock from which Jacob took the she-goats signifies the goods of love a man receives not immediately by influx from the Lord, but by inheritance from his parents. These affections are strengthened by education. Although these loves are mixed with many impure, selfish, and worldly loves, they are yet of great importance, and without them man could never be saved. Man, with the heredity he has, would not at the commencement of reformation have the strength to acquire a knowledge of the Word and to struggle to make something important of his life if at the commencement he did not have ambitions, motivated by the love of glory, of praise, and of success as seen in the light of the world. Later on, indeed, these loves must be discarded in order that man may come to pure loves and the perception of genuine truths out of pure loves.
The flock from which Jacob took the she-goats signifies the desires man inherits from his parents to learn truths so that he may know many things and appear intelligent, and so that he may not only excel others in knowing but may also gain a reputation for leading an honorable life.
A man who disciplines himself in order to gain such a reputation imagines that he has become intelligent and that he leads an honorable life from the pure inspiration of God, although in fact his motives are not at all pure. This is represented in our story by Jacob saying, "I am Esau thy firstborn; I have done according as thou badest me." (Genesis 27:19.)
Isaac's saying, "The voice is Jacob's voice" (Gen. 27: 22), signifies that, seen interiorly, he acted according to the truths which he knew, but not out of a pure love inspired from God. "But the hands are the hands of Esau" signifies that, as to the speech of his mouth and the acts of his body, he appeared to be acting from a pure love to God and his neighbor.
When Esau returned to his father, and his father knew what had taken place, it is said that "Isaac shuddered with exceeding great shuddering." This signifies the great perturbation of mind a man comes into when he realizes that the honorable life he has been leading is not the result of pure motives inspired by God but is motivated by things mixed with earthly ambitions, or maybe by a desire to be rewarded in heaven—not purely by a love of God and his neighbor.
After the blessings it is said that: "Esau hated Jacob, . . . and Esau said in his heart, ... I will slay my brother Jacob." (Gen. 27:41.)
In the internal sense, this signifies that the good represented by Esau was averse to the life which is from self and not from inspiration from God, averse to the ambitions and other worldly loves; and hence he desired to remove such loves. The meaning of the words here is similar to the meaning of the words of the Lord: "He that loveth his life shall lose it, and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal." (John 12:25.)
The good of love represented by Esau can by no means hate or desire to kill, but it desires that the old life may die in order that man may receive new life from the Lord. In the letter it appears entirely different, the appearance being that Esau acted out of hatred. In the letter of the Word such appearances frequently occur, as when it says that Jehovah is angry, is jealous, curses, and condemns, whereas being Infinite Mercy and Love, Jehovah is infinitely above such merely human emotions.
In the thirty-second and thirty-third chapters of Genesis are described Jacob's great fear when he came to meet his brother Esau and how he humbled himself before him; how Esau ran to meet him, embraced him, fell upon his neck, and kissed him. When a man who has loved the truths of faith out of a merely human desire to know and the desire to lead a life according to them in order to excel others in reputation comes to humble himself before a life which is out of a love into the Lord, that is, out of a pure spiritual life, then his love to the Lord embraces the truths of faith that he has learned by study and application from motives mixed with ambitions and purifies them.
Jacob, therefore, after he humbled himself before Esau and after Esau embraced him, signifies the pure truths of faith which are conjoined with love toward the Lord and love toward one's neighbor.
As we have said, man's regeneration is an image of the glorification of the Lord. The Lord had a Divine heredity from the Divine Itself, called the Father, and a heredity having all human weaknesses from Mary. As to His Human, the Lord had to be instructed, to learn and to struggle like mankind in general, although with far greater wisdom, as is indicated by His speaking with the doctors in the temple when He was twelve years old, at which time the doctors were astonished at His understanding.
The Lord read and meditated on the Word; He learned the Law represented by Jacob in the chapter we are considering. By living the Law of Moses, He finally came to the spontaneous life according to the inner good of life represented by Esau; but as with other men, this came only after a life of obedience to the Word of God as taken up by study and reflection. The Law so taken up at first necessarily appeared as if it were in the first place represented by Isaac regarding Jacob as his firstborn. It was on account of the Lord's maternal heredity that this was necessary. The Lord in His temptations, in which He overcame, finally put off all the hereditary weakness inherited from Mary, so that He was no longer her son, as He said: "Who is my mother? and who are my brethren ? And He stretched forth his hand toward His disciples and said, Behold My mother and My brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of My Father who is in heaven, the same is My brother, and sister, and mother." (Matthew 12:48-50.)
The whole of the Lord's life, as interiorly represented in the chapters we are considering, treats of how the Lord completely expelled the maternal heredity and glorified His Human until He was completely one with the Father one in Essence and one in Person.
But before a man who has loved the truths of faith can come to humiliate himself before the good of love to the Lord and his neighbor, he has to pass through severe temptations, represented in this chapter by Jacob serving twice seven years for his wives, and his fleeing from Laban, his father-in-law.
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob represented the Lord, but in the Christian Church particularly, Joseph has been recognized as a type of the Messiah who was to come. For example, we read concerning Joseph in the Catholic Encyclopedia :
A character so beautiful made Joseph a most worthy type of Christ, the model of all perfection, and it is easy to point out some of the traits of resemblance between Jacob's beloved son and the dearly beloved Son of God. Like Jesus, Joseph was hated and cast out by his brethren, and yet wrought out their salvation through the suffering they had brought upon him. Like Jesus, Joseph obtained his exaltation only after passing through the deepest and most undeserved humiliation, and in the kingdom over which he ruled, he invited his brethren to join there to whom theretofore they had looked upon as a stranger, in order that they might also enjoy the blessings which he had stored up for them. Like the Savior of the world, Joseph had but words of forgiveness and blessing for all, who recognizing their misery, had recourse to his supreme power. It was to Joseph of old, as to Jesus that all had to appeal for relief, offering homage of the deepest respect, and yielding ready obedience in all things. Finally, to the Patriarch Joseph, as to Jesus, it was given to inaugurate a new order of things for the greater power and glory of the monarch to whom he owed his exaltation. While thus recognizing the typical meaning of Joseph's career, one should not lose sight that one is in the presence of a distinctly historical character.
Also in the Protestant Churches it has not been uncommon to speak of the "Heavenly Joseph," meaning the Lord. Although the above statement from the Catholic Encyclopedia in general is true, it does not tell us anything new about the Lord, nor does it help us much to lead a new life. It does not reveal anything new about what Bishop Sheen calls the "inner thoughts" of the Lord, which is the primary purpose of Revelation. In the twelve- volume work Arcana Coelestia we referred to before, Emanuel Swedenborg has done just this. In this work it is shown that the whole of the Old Testament has an internal sense which treats in its inmost sense of the life of the Lord, of His internal life, of His thoughts, His affections, and His temptations. Deeply hidden there are wonderful things which the Lord referred to when He said to His apostles: "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of Truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth." (John 16:12, 13.)
From the Lord, Swedenborg has opened up the Books of Genesis and Exodus in such a way as to reveal the inner life of the Lord and the inner life of the man who is on the way to heaven. We shall now give some examples of this, in the simplest language possible, rather than in the more exact theological language, which would not at first reading be so readily understood. To see the particulars in their exact series would require a careful study of the Arcana Coelestia. The whole of the Word is written in a Divine series. More and more of the wonders of the Word can be seen if one's mind is opened to heaven; but even the knowledge of the wisest of men is only as a cup of water compared to the ocean relative to all the wonders of the Lord's life and the regeneration of man that are involved in the Word of the Lord. As it is written in the closing verse of the Gospel of John: "And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written." (21:25.) In this verse by "the world" is meant the church.
Not only do these stories in their inner sense reveal the Lord's thoughts and the manner in which He glorified His Human, but, because the life of the man who is regenerated is an image and likeness of the Lord's life, this is also described. And because the church commences as an infant and develops like a man, the whole progress of the church is described.
We shall now consider the thirty-ninth chapter of Genesis: And Joseph was brought down into Egypt; and Potiphar . . . bought him. (v. 1) And Joseph was a prosperous man ... in the house of his lord the Egyptian, (v. 2) And it came to pass after these things that his lord's wife . . . said, Lie with me. (v. 7) And he refused and said unto his lord's wife, . . . How . . . shall I do this great evil, and sin against God? (v. 8,9)
And it came to pass . . . and no men of the house were in the house. And she caught him by his garment, saying, Lie with me; and he left his garment in her hand, and fled and got him out. (v. 11, 12)
And Joseph's master took him and put him in the prison, (v. 20) To understand the spiritual significance of the above verses, we must have some understanding of the spiritual significance of marriage and its opposite. The Lord, in the Word of the Lord, is in many passages called the Husband and the Church His Bride and Wife. When the Church is unfaithful, it is called a harlot and is said "to go a whoring after their gods" as in Exodus 34:15, and there are many similar verses.
In all things of creation there is a conjunction of two into one. Even in the mineral kingdom, hydrogen and oxygen combine to make water; sodium and chlorine, to make salt. All such things represent things of the spirit. In man, the will and the understanding are conjoined to make the mind of man. As love is of the will and truth is of the understanding, it is a conj unction of these two which makes a true man. The will without being married to the understanding, and the understanding without being married to the will, can produce nothing. Every good intention must have its own truth or knowledge to accomplish anything; and every truth of faith is of no importance unless it has behind it a will to act, that is, to do good. A man without a will has no motivation even to acquire truth or faith. Without a will, a man cannot even lift his hand or open his eyes.
This is represented in the relation of husband and wife, or of man and woman. With hypocrites, the will and the understanding are indeed divided. Hypocrites understand how to appear to act well; but their will or intention, being centered in their own advantage at the expense of others, is evil.
The outstanding inner characteristic of a man who is truly a man is the love of becoming wise and of being actively engaged in acquiring the things of wisdom. This love forms man's inner mind or soul, and from this he acquires in a lower degree or plane of the mind an understanding of truth; thus, the inner or higher mind of a man is love, that is, the love of acquiring wisdom, and the outer or lower mind is the understanding of truth which he has acquired.
The ruling characteristic of a woman is different. A woman who is truly feminine is affected or moved by truth; she loves the truth, and thus her love has an exquisite sensitivity to the things of wisdom and is receptive of wisdom. Her longing is not so much an eager desire to acquire knowledge, to struggle intellectually, but rather a delight in being affected by or moved by the truth when she hears it. This delight in the things of wisdom forms her inner mind or soul. From this, her inner sanctum of truth, she is filled with the love of clothing the truths developed in the Church, of applying them to life. Wherefore Eve was called the mother of all living; thus the internal of woman is truth and her external is love, the love of giving form to truth, and from this she loves her husband, if he is truly a man.
The above is all involved spiritually in the story of the creation of Eve from the rib of Adam, but we shall not stop here to unfold this story in detail.
When a man and woman are spoken of in the Word of God, in the higher sense, the man or husband stands for and represents love and the woman or wife, truth. But when the lower or more external meaning is involved, then the man stands for the understanding of truth and the woman or wife, for the love of what is good. In the Hebrew language, there are two words for "man," adam and ish. When adam is used, it refers to the inner mind of man, which is the love of being actively engaged in the things of wisdom; when ish is used, it is the lower mind of man that is referred to, namely, the understanding of truth. And the reverse applies to woman. When the higher meaning is involved, a woman or wife stands for or signifies truth; when the lower or more external meaning is involved, a woman or wife stands for the good of love.
In the chapter we are considering, the man under whom Joseph served was called his lord, not his master. A lord leads, a master instructs. Jesus Christ was called sometimes "Lord," and sometimes "Master" or "Rabboni." When He is called "Lord," it refers to His leading by the good of His love; when He is called "Master," it refers to His instructing in the truths of faith. Even in English, we call one who instructs another a "master."
In the story of Joseph and Potiphar, Joseph stands for the inner mind or soul in which the Holy Spirit of our Lord is received: Potiphar, for the outer or lower mind.
Man is born with animal-like traits, both good and evil. Some men by nature are faithful, friendly, good-natured, and generous, as are some animals. Others are born more pugnacious, unfriendly, and ill-natured, like other animals. Potiphar, in the chapter we are considering, stands for a kind of instinctive good which man has in common with animals; and his wife, for the thoughts or the truths which agree with such an outer good.
In childhood and youth, man's natural affections rule. He does not as yet have principles of truth which rule over or govern his life. Yet the Lord works in his outer or natural good affections out of His presence in the inner mind, secretly leading him. As long as this state lasts, man is blessed as the Lord blessed Potiphar and his house on account of Joseph.
The natural affections or loves, meant by Potiphar, are such things as the love of one's friends, love of one's family, even love of one's church, and, if one is brought up in a religious family, love of the Lord. These loves are at first spontaneous with man, and some of them are instinctive with animals. But with a man who is truly a man, there is an inner presence of the Lord in man's natural affections that makes him different. This presence of the Lord is represented by Joseph; but in this state, Joseph is a servant, for man does not, in this state, submit himself to the Divine Good and Divine Truth which are above his natural loves and affections.
The Lord, when on earth, had such natural loves on account of His maternal heredity. These loves later had to be entirely changed as to their quality. While the Lord was still a boy twelve years of age, this struggle had already commenced, as is indicated by His reply to Mary in the temple in Jerusalem. Mary said to Him, "Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? Behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? Wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business? And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them. And he came down with them and came to Nazareth and was subject unto them." (Luke 2:48-51.) Compare this with the following:
Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him. Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered him. (Matthew 3:13-15)
These submissions of the Lord have a similar signification to Joseph, being, as it were, a servant to Potiphar his lord. But as the Lord said, "Suffer it to be so now." This indicates that it was only temporary. The time came when the Lord's relation to Mary was completely changed. When certain persons came to the Lord and said that His mother and brethren desired to speak with Him, He replied, "Who is My mother and who are My brethren ? And He stretched forth His hand toward His disciples and said, Behold My mother and My brethren. For whosoever shall do the will of My Father which is in heaven, the same is My brother, and sister, and mother." (Matthew 12:47-50.)
Thus the Lord put off any special relation to Mary and His brethren. He rose above all merely human relationships and viewed all things from the Divine and from His love for the universal salvation of the human race.
The same applied to His love of His home town, His country, and the church in which He was brought up. He had to rise above all merely human affections and view all from an infinite Divine Love; and this involved temptations, for a man cannot remove merely natural affections without temptations, nor could the Lord.
In this struggle, Potiphar stands for such natural affections and his wife for the apparent truths which were married to these loves. These apparent truths, represented by Potiphar's wife, appear even to be confirmed by things of the letter of Scripture. The garment of Joseph, which Potiphar's wife took from him, represents such confirmations, and these confirmations persuaded the natural affections, represented by Potiphar, to put Joseph in prison.
We shall illustrate this by things that take place with a man who is becoming regenerated or a spiritual man by placing the love of the Kingdom of Heaven above the things of this world. Such a man comes into a new relation to his children. He no longer loves his children because they are his, but he loves them for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. His desire is no longer primarily directed toward his children's becoming successful citizens of this world, but toward their becoming good citizens in the Kingdom of Heaven, and only secondarily good citizens of this world. If, on becoming adult, they do not direct themselves toward the Kingdom of Heaven, this results in a kind of separation. Not that he does not long for their spiritual welfare, but he does not keep them attached to himself.
In this connection, consider the parable of the Prodigal Son. A father who was guided merely by his natural affections would have gone in search of his son, or at least would have sent messengers to look for him and bring him back. But such an act would have been contrary to the real welfare of his son. There could be no real conjunction until the son repented and of his own free choice came back and submitted himself to his father.
A man who acts from merely natural affections will help all kinds of people, especially the poor and miserable, and will quote Scripture in support of such actions. But such a man often does more harm than good; for he is easily persuaded to help the evil, who misuse his help, especially if they are friends, and his help often results in making others lazy and irresponsible.
If one does not take a superficial heartiness as an expression of genuine love, he is regarded as too critical. If one does not manifest a love for his alma mater by contributing to it generously, for the reason that he sees that the alma mater is not serving spiritual or eternal goals, one is criticized. If one takes a stand against being excessively mild toward those who have broken the laws, on the grounds that the welfare of society as a whole must be served, and that severe punishment is necessary for the protection of society and is most salutary for those who commit offenses, he is regarded as hardhearted.
Many speak of the Lord as if He were mild and gentle, and they think a good Christian should always be mild and gentle. The Lord was indeed quite mild to the humble and repentant; but to the hypocrites, to the self-righteous, and to the proud He was exceedingly sharp.
Consider His words to the woman taken in adultery: "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more." (John 8:11.) The whole spirit of the Gospels implies that the Lord's words were said in such a way as to make such an impression on the woman that she would not consider disobeying them.
A syndicated sermon in the daily press speaks of the Lord as He went away, as turning to the woman and quietly saying, "Go and sin no more." What a perversion!
The Lord said: "I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done." (John 13:15.) If a man follows the example of the Lord and condemns most harshly the counterfeit, the self-righteous, and the false; pride parading as humility; vanity in the guise of piety; ambition posing as charity and service; sophistication palmed off as erudition, especially in those in high places, will he not be condemned ? Will he not be accused of lacking "Christian charity"? Such false accusations are especially signified by the accusation Potiphar's wife brought against Joseph.
To condemn hypocrisy is a work of real charity, for if there is no exposure of the hypocritical, the false, the pretended, there can be no cure, no health; it will be like new skin covering a hidden abscess.
The Lord said, "As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise." (Luke 6:31.) These words of the Lord can be badly misunderstood. Most men like to be flattered, to be praised and patted on the back, whether it is meant sincerely or not; they desire that their faults remain hidden or be ignored; they do not desire their just reward. In turn, they flatter and praise others, they manifest an appearance of friendship, mildness, and gentleness, in order to be liked or spoken well of by others. Thus they think they do unto others as they wish others to do unto them. But this is a mockery of the Lord's words.
The Lord addresses the earnest, the sincerethose who wish to change their lives. Such are glad when their faults are shown to them. They do not resent a reprimand but value it if it is just and constructive; they appreciate the value of being disciplined. They therefore appreciate any words or actions of others in relation to themselves which are useful, whether pleasant or unpleasant. It is only to such that the words of the Lord quoted above apply.
Those who think of the Lord as only gentle and mild, who regard the so-called social gospel as the all of religion, make much of the Ten Blessings; but not many desire the tenth blessing: "Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice and be exceeding glad; for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you." (Matthew 5:11, 12.)
How many Christians take seriously the words of the Lord: "Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets." (Luke 6:26.)
One who speaks the truth without fear or favor knows that many will not like him. Yet do not most men, even those called Christians, including their ministers, wish to be liked above everything else?
This of course does not refer to one who speaks his mind on all occasions whether it is appropriate or not. Some want or like to speak the unvarnished truth just for the sake of shocking people or of getting attention; they have no love of truth for the sake of truth. Some speak from a persecution or martyr complex; they may be ambitious to gain a martyr's crown. Such are stupid.
The world's rejection of those who stand for the truth truth that manifests the state of the worldis represented by Joseph's being placed in prison. In the supreme sense this rejection applies to the Lord, who was crucified. In a relative sense it applies to those who follow the Lord.
The Lord said:
Ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake. (Matthew 10:22)
If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. (John 15:19)
In contrast, many think that the fact that they are loved by all men is a sign that they are good Christians. Why else is it considered a reproach to be called a Jeremiah?
It is often said that everyone has his good and his bad side, with the implication that we should treat all more or less alike; and this is regarded as charity. In contradistinction to this, if it is pointed out that everyone has a ruling love, inspired by either heaven or hell, and that no one can serve two masters, God and mammon, this is regarded as indicative of a lack of spirit of charity or brotherly love. Such illustrations could be multiplied, for in everything of human life there is either an approach from an apparent good, with apparently reasonable arguments in favor of it, or a genuine approach, having in it the warmth and light of heaven. With all who see only in the light of this world, the former will be praised as being good and wise; whereas the latter will be condemned as lacking charity and normal human sympathy and despising wholesome normal feelings. In recent times this false idea of charity has often characterized governments.
The most important thing for a man's natural as well as his spiritual development is for him to become responsible, to assume obligations, to become truly independent—in a word, to become a man or woman, and not remain a child. Does not indiscriminate government assistance destroy these qualities, taking away man's initiative and independence, making many lazy and irresponsible, and often making the undeserving worse than they otherwise would be? Yet any protest against the misuse of public assistance is regarded as uncharitable. By this we do not mean to imply that there should not be public assistance to those who are worthy and cannot help themselves or that there should not be wise public assistance to the handicapped to enable them to become more responsible and to help themselves, but the removal of difficulties at the expense of the development of character is wrong.
A wise judge who orders such severe punishments as are in order to protect society and put fear into evildoers is criticized by some as not having Christian charity. Such things are false charges, such as are signified by the accusation Potiphar's wife brought against Joseph. That is, those who have a sentimental idea of charity accuse the spirit of the Word, signified by Joseph, of lacking love toward a neighbor, and they quote Scripture to support their accusations. Thus, by the literal truths of the Word, misunderstood and misapplied, the outer loves and affections are turned against the inner good and truth, represented by Joseph. When the wife of Potiphar took Joseph's garment and used it to witness against him—that is, took away the appearance of truth with which man is clothed—it is said, "There was none of the men of the house there within." There was no one to help or witness for him. This brings to mind the prophecy of Isaiah concerning the Lord:
And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessor; therefore his arm brought salvation. . . . (Isaiah 59:16)
And of the people there was none with me. . . . And I looked and there was none to help; and I wondered that there was none to uphold. (Isaiah 63:3,5)
Also, at the temptation in Gethsemane, the disciples slept and the Lord said unto Peter, "What, could ye not watch with me one hour?" (Matthew 26:40.)
The Lord's temptations were much more profound than we can comprehend; still, the above illustrations may give a little idea of what they were like.
They all had to do with putting off the merely human love and affections He inherited from Mary and putting on in their place Divine Love and Wisdom, whereby He saved the human race. This putting off of all that was merely human from Mary and putting on the Divine, that is, making His Human Divine, is what is meant by the Lord's saying: "Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him" (John 13:31 and other similar passages.)
The Lord, having put off all merely natural human affection for the Jewish Church in which He was brought up, by exposing the evils and hypocrisy of the Jewish Church so offended the Church that He was persecuted and finally crucified in like manner as Joseph was accused by Potiphar's wife and put into the prison house by Potiphar.
We shall now consider the following verses of Chapters 37, 44, and 47 of Genesis.
(From Chapter 37:) And Joseph dreamed a dream, and he told it his brethren, and they hated him yet the more. And he said unto them, Hear, I pray you, this dream. . . . For, behold, we were binding sheaves in the field, and lo, my sheaf arose, and also stood upright ; and behold, your sheaves stood round about, and made obeisance to my sheaf. And his brethren said to him, Shalt thou indeed reign over us? or shalt thou indeed have dominion over us? And they hated him yet the more for his dream, and for his words, (verses 5-8)
(From Chapter 44:) And he [the servant of Joseph] overtook them and he spake unto them [the brethren of Joseph] Wherefore have ye rewarded evil for good?
Is not this it [the silver cup] in which my lord drinketh, and-whereby indeed he divineth? ye have done evil in so doing. . . . And they said unto him, . . . God forbid that thy servants should do according to this thing: [that is, that they should steal Joseph's cup] .... With whomsoever of thy servants it be found, both let him die, and we also will be my lord's bondmen. . . .
And Judah and his brethren came to Joseph's house; for he was yet there: and they fell before him on the ground. . . .
[And Judah said] Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord. (Genesis 44:6,4,5,7,9,14,33)
(From Chapter 47:) ... all the Egyptians came unto Joseph, and said, . . . there is not ought left in the sight of my lord, but our bodies, and our lands: Wherefore shall we die before thine eyes, both we and our land? buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants unto Pharaoh: and give us seed, that we may live, and not die. (verses 15,18,19)
The Lord in His parables at times compared the Church to a field and the truths of the Word, by which man is spiritually fed, to the seed. The sons of Jacob with their sheaves represent the teachings or doctrine of those who instruct the Church. Joseph's sheaf stands for or represents the teaching that the Lord Jesus Christ is the God of heaven and earth, and that His Human is Divine, and that we are to be conjoined with Him in love by the keeping of His commandments. The brethren of Joseph in the thirty-seventh chapter stand for those in the Church who live by faith alone and teach salvation by faith but do not have a genuine love to God and their neighbor and do not live according to the Lord's commandments; such do not believe that the Lord's Human is Divine. To believe in the Divine Human is to believe that God is a Divine Man. a Man of Infinite Love and Wisdom, who came to earth and made His Human Divine. We can know the Lord from the description of His life on earth, as recounted in the Gospels, but He is now in the Kingdom of Heaven.
When asked when the Kingdom of God should come, the Lord said: "Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:21.)
The Lord is in His Kingdom not only outside of man, but He is in the Kingdom of Heaven within man. Here He can appear to man in His Divine Human, and here man can internally adore Him. If a man comes to a full state of regeneration, a state now very rare, he sees the Lord as Divine Love, Wisdom, and Mercy, working in man for his salvation.
In the Arcana Coelestia of Swedenborg, we read: "Man is sensible of that which flows in by an external way, [that is, through man's senses] but not, until he is regenerated, of that which flows in by an internal way" [that is, through the soul]. (Number 4977.)
A man who has a kind of faith but does not lead a worthy life, or one who is conceited, proud, or vain, may be willing to worship an invisible God, an unknown creator of the universe, an intellectual abstraction; but to bow down and worship and submit his life to the visible Lord in His Divine Human in the Kingdom of Heaven within runs counter to his pride and vanity. This asks for an entire change in his life; and this but few come to and many reject, feeling an aversion for the truth which teaches this. It is this that is signified by the hatred which Joseph's brethren felt for him and by their rejection of him.
Although in one sense Joseph and his brethren stand for different classes of persons, in a deeper sense Joseph and his brethren stand for different things in every man in the Church, for Joseph stands for the presence of the Lord in the inmost of man's mind; and his brethren, for lower faculties of the mind which at first are unwilling to submit themselves to the rule of the Lord in the inmost of the mind. Even the Lord, when on earth, had in His natural mind a knowledge of the Church which He had acquired from the Jewish Church, conjoined with affections which had in them hereditary weakness inherited from Mary. This lower mind resisted total submission to the Divine Love Itself, called the Father, until He had overcome these weaknesses in the temptations which He underwent and until He had totally submitted Himself to the Divine Itself in His soul.
The final submission of Joseph's brethren to Joseph had to take place by a free choice, or willingly. Joseph's brethren came and fell down before Joseph, and Judah offered himself as his slave of his own free choice. Yet it was Joseph who brought this about, by controlling the circumstances which led up to this. In the same way the Lord in the inmost of the mind of man leads man, by a way that is unknown to him, to submit his life to the Lord as a servant, and yet man does this of his own free choice.
The circumstances were that Joseph sent his servant to accuse his brethren of theft, particularly the theft of his silver cup, which was in the bag of Benjamin. The story of Joseph revolves around the fact that Joseph could not be united to his brethren without Benjamin as an intermediate. As we read: "Judah spake unto him [his father], saying, The man did solemnly protest unto us, saying, Ye shall not see my face, except your brother be with you." (Genesis 43:3.)
To understand the story, we must have an idea of what Joseph stands for, what Israel stands for, what Benjamin stands for, and what the ten brethren stand for. Joseph, as we have said, stands for the presence of the Lord as the Divine Truth in the love of God which is in the inmost of the mind; his ten brethren stand for the truths of the Church in the external or outer mind; and Benjamin stands for the intermediate or conjoining truth by which the internal flows into the external. If we compare the inmost to the head and the external to the body, the intermediate may be compared to the neck.
Israel stands for the good of life, or a good life according to the truth which man knows by his reading and meditating on and obeying the Word of God. When Benjamin is with his father, he stands for the new truths which a man out of such a life sees in the Word of God. There are truths which a man cannot see before he comes into such a life. There are many truths in the Word which can be seen only as the result of the experience of living a spiritually good life of love to God and one's neighbor. Such truths are meant by Benjamin, when with his father. These truths, that is, Benjamin, can be elevated to the Lord in the Divine Truth in the inmost of the mind, that is, to Joseph. Joseph stands for and represents the Lord as the Divine Truth in the highest degree of the mind. It is by means of the new truths developed out of a spiritual life of love to the Lord and one's neighbor that the mind is opened to its inmost where the Lord has His dwelling place in man. Man can finally come to a state wherein the Lord as the Divine Truth, that is, Joseph, can manifest Himself to the natural or lower mind of man in which are teachings that man has gathered together from his study of the Word.
It is only by living the truths we know from a study of the Word, and thereby coming to a life of love to the Lord and our neighbor, and from such a life seeing new truths in the Word, represented by Benjamin, that the Divine Truth in the inmost of man's mind, represented by Joseph, can manifest itself to our outer mind, represented by Joseph's ten brethren.
As long as we have not come to a life of love and faith, and out of such a life have perceived new truths we did not know before (Benjamin), the Lord as the Divine Truth in the inmost (Joseph) will appear as a stranger, as a severe ruler, not manifesting His love, as was the case of Joseph in relation to his brethren when Benjamin was not with them. An analogy of such new truths, represented by Benjamin, is as follows: It is realized that out of a lifetime of experience in his profession a man comes to knowledge that can never be acquired by mere book learning. An elderly man comes to what is sometimes called the wisdom of life as the result of a lifetime of many experiences. But it is not realized by many that such wisdom does not become the real wisdom of life unless it totally submits itself to the presence of the Holy Spirit of our Lord in the Kingdom of Heaven with man, that is, to Joseph, and that such a submission is an acknowledgment from the heart that, of ourselves, we have no wisdom, but that all wisdom flows into us from God.
Benjamin, when Joseph had manifested himself to him, stands for truths flowing from the presence of the Lord in the inmost of the mind into the truths of the Church in the outer or external mind, represented by the ten sons, through the intermediate truths spoken of above. But before this can take place, Joseph accuses his brethren of stealing his silver cup. In the Bible story, wine stands for or represents spiritual or inner truths. The silver cup stands for the vessels of the mind into which these truths inflow. To steal the silver cup is to think that the faculty of receiving Divine Truth from the Lord is man's own faculty, and not to see it as something bestowed on man, as something loaned, as a talent which man may indeed feel as if it were his own but which he must acknowledge as being continuously from the Lord with him. Everyone, to begin with, steals the good and the true things of the Word and the Church, because he feels they are his own, and therefore such stealing is forgiven man if he later comes to acknowledge that all that is good and true is from the Lord and must be ascribed to the Lord because it is Divine, and thus is the Lord's and not man's own and is given to man only as a talent to be used. Truths are living truths only as long as man's mind is open to receive the Spirit of our Lord. The moment we do not acknowledge that truths are with us continually from the Lord and are the Lord's, they become mere knowledges in the memory, lifeless shells which have lost their kernel. Many have had the experience of hearing truths which have stirred their souls; but when later recalled from the memory, the same truths seem dry and lifeless, the reason being that they have come to a state in which they are no longer open to the Lord. Such a dry, dead attitude, in which one can find no nourishment for the soul, is represented by the famine that caused Jacob and his sons and the Egyptians to come to Joseph for food.
Joseph's brethren stand for or represent the truths or falsities of faith in man's natural or outer mind. When they submit themselves to Joseph, they represent truths. When they hate Joseph, they represent false teachings. The Egyptians stand for or represent the knowledges of the Word that a man has in his outer memory. When he reads the Word of the Lord out of the conceit of his own intelligence or out of pride, man misinterprets whatever he reads in the letter of the Word of the Lord and opposes the genuine spiritual meaning of the Word; he regards himself and those who agree with him as being a chosen people. This perversity is represented by the Pharaoh who knew not Joseph and the Egyptians who were persecuting the children of Israel. When the Lord rules in the Kingdom of Heaven within man, then all the knowledges he has from reading the Word submit themselves to the Lord and become true knowledges in the memory. In order to represent the instruction of the Lord in the knowledges of the Word, Joseph, like our Lord, was carried down into Egypt.
A man may know many things from the Word of the Lord, yet they may not be living in him—they may not feed his spirit, and he thus feels that he is starving.
The Egyptians, after their silver and cattle were gone, came to Joseph and offered themselves and their ground unto Joseph for food. That they offered themselves signifies that they gave up their own will, the receptacle of the good of love, so that they might receive a new will, namely, the Lord's, in them. That they gave up their ground signifies that they gave up their own understanding so that they might receive a new understanding from the Lord. That they were given food by Joseph signifies that they then received love and wisdom from the Lord. When a man comes into such a state of mind, all knowledges he has from the Word become vessels for receiving spiritual life from the Lord.
Many read the Word from their own intelligence and look for things in the Word which confirm their preconceived ideas. Such never come to a true understanding of the Word. It is only those who read the Word in order that their loves and thinking may be changed by the Lord who can come to a real understanding of the Word.
The Egyptians then said: "We shall live, and our ground, servants unto Pharaoh." In explanation of these words, we read in the Arcana Coelestia, by Emanuel Swedenborg, as follows:
That this signifies total submission . . . "we and our ground" [are] . . . the receptacles of good and truth . . . "servants [signifies] to be without freedom from man's own [or self], thus total submission. By receptacles are meant the very forms of men; for men are nothing else than forms receptive of life from the Lord, and these forms are such by inheritance and by actual life that they refuse to admit spiritual life which is from the Lord. But when these receptacles have been so far renounced that they no longer have any freedom from the man's own, there is total submission. A man who is being regenerated is at last so far reduced by repeated alternations of desolation and sustenance that he no longer wills to be his own, but the Lord's; and when he has become the Lord's he comes into a state of such a nature that when he is left to self he grieves and is seized with anxiety; and when he is delivered from this state of self he returns into his happiness and bliss. In such a state are all the angels. In order that He may make a man blessed and happy, the Lord wills a total submission, that is, that he be not partly his own and partly the Lord's, for then there are two lords, which no man can serve at the same time. (Matthew 6:24)
Total submission is also meant by the Lord's words in Matthew: "He that loveth father and mother more than Me is not worthy of Me: and he that loveth son and daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me." (10: 37) ; where by "father and mother" are signified in general those things which are man's own from inheritance, and by "son and daughter" those things which are his own from actual life.
Man's own is also signified by "soul" in John: "He that loveth his soul shall lose it; but he that hateth his soul in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If anyone will minister to Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there shall also My servant be." (John 12:25, 26). ..
That submission must be total is very evident from the first commandment of the church: "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God from all thy heart, and from all thy soul, and from all thy mind, and from all thy forces; this is the first commandment." (Mark 12:30) Thus because love to the Lord does not come from man, but from the Lord Himself, therefore all the heart, all the soul, all the mind, and all the forces, which are recipients, must be the Lord's, consequently submission must be total. Such is the submission which is here signified by the words "we shall live, and our ground, servants unto Pharaoh," for by Pharaoh is represented the natural in general which is under the auspices of the internal celestial, in the supreme sense under the auspices of the Lord, who in this sense is "Joseph." (Number 6138)
We have considered the above quotation in relation to the regeneration of man; but as man's regeneration is an image of the Lord's glorification, inmostly these verses treat of the glorification of our Lord. But as this is so profound a subject, we shall not enter into it now. We shall only say a few words as to the difference between the Lord's glorification of His Human, by which He made it Divine, and the regeneration of man's human, by which it is made spiritual.
Man is not life, not a spark of the Divine, but a vessel which receives the Lord's life. This may be crudely illustrated by the filament of an electric light bulb which receives electric current and becomes a light as long as the current is received; the moment the current is cut off, the light goes out. If a man does not receive love and wisdom from the Lord every moment, his life of love and the light of his intelligence immediately ceases. "A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven." (John 3:27.) And the Lord said: "He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing." (John 15:5.)
Whereas man is a vessel that receives the Lord's life, and has no life from himself, the Lord communicates His life to man in such a way that man feels it as his own and can act as if of himself. If this were not so, man would not be man, nor could he feel the joy of cooperating with the Lord, in his love to God and his neighbor. Yet though man feels love and wisdom as his own, he should acknowledge that he has nothing of the life of genuine love and wisdom if it is not given from the Lord out of heaven.
That the Lord is life itself, and that man is the recipient of life, the Lord taught in many passages in the Gospel of John, as follows:
For as the Father hath life in himself: so hath he given unto the Son to have life in himself. (5:26)
In him was life; and the life was the light of men. (1:4)
Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life. (6:54)
I am come that they might have life. (10:10) And I give unto them eternal life. (10:28) I am the resurrection, and the life. (11:25) I am the way, the truth, and the life. (14:6)
The Lord totally submitted Himself to the Father, and thus became life itself, entirely one with the Fatherone in Essence and one in Person. Man submits himself to the Lord and receives his life, and is thereby conjoined to the Lord. But he is not totally united to the Lord, nor does he become one with the Lord, for he can never have life in himself as his own, as the Lord had, but he has life as if of himself from the Lord.
In the Arcana Coelestia we read the explication of the words: "And Jehovah was with Joseph."
By "Jehovah was with him" is signified that the Divine was therein; for the Divine was in His Human, because He was conceived of Jehovah. In the case of the angels, the Divine is not in them, but is present with them, because they are only forms recipient of the Divine from the Lord. (Number 4971)
There are two opposite extreme opinions with man. One is that man has in him a spark of the Divine as his own, which would make him a little god; the opposite opinion is that man cannot receive the Divine of the Lord in his soul or mind, which makes of man an animal.
The Lord said: "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:33.)
The Kingdom of God which man is to seek is the "Kingdom of God which is within you," in which is the Lord. For if the Kingdom of God is not within you, it is impossible to be in the Kingdom of God round about you.
Many desire to go to heaven, but their main goal in life is not seeking the Kingdom of God within them.
There are many who strive for the improvement of the world, but an apparent improvement of the world is only a palliative cure and short-lived if the Kingdom of God is not established in men's hearts.
If man does not seek the Kingdom of Heaven within, with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength, and if he does not there totally submit himself to the Lord, little is accomplished. How few there are who see that the primary work of man is to form his mind as a dwelling place of God in His Kingdom! This does not mean that man must not do his work in the world sincerely, faithfully, and justly, for this is part of the work of forming the Kingdom of God within; but man's work in this world should be regarded as that of a servant for a more noble end, for the sake of the Kingdom of God within and without.
We are told that the Ten Commandments were written by the finger of God on Mount Sinai, when Jehovah descended upon the mount in fire. The tables of stone were placed in the Holy of Holies in the ark. And by the ark were done great miracles, such as the drying up of Jordan, so that the Children of Israel could pass over. The truths in the Ten Commandments were commonly known: that they were to worship God and hallow His name; that they were to keep holy days sacred; that they were to honor father and mother; that they were not to kill, steal, commit adultery, or bear false witness. These commandments were known to nearly all peoples, for without some of these laws, human society is impossible.
The reason why the Ten Commandments were given with such great miracles was to make it plain that these laws are not only civil and moral laws, but also Divine Laws, and that to sin against them is not only to sin against one's neighbor and society, but to sin against God.
The keeping of these laws in their literal sense is not only the basis of society and the state, but also the basis of the Kingdom of God. The Lord, when in the world, taught that it is not sufficient to keep these laws only in their letter, but that it is necessary to keep them also in their spirit:
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. (Matthew 5 -.21,22) Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. (Matthew 5:27,28)
There is, however, much more involved in the Ten Commandments than the Lord here expressed. The Lord said: "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." (John 16:12.)
There are many things in the Word of the Lord that could not be revealed to the Apostles, including the inner meaning of the Ten Commandments.
We read in the Arcana Coelestia, by Emanuel Swedenborg:
"And God spake all these words, saying." That this signifies truths Divine for those in the heavens and for those on earth. . . . From this also truth Divine is called "the Word," and "the Word" is the Lord, according to John 1:1, for the reason that when the Lord was in the world He was the Divine truth itself, and afterward when He was glorified He became the Divine good, and thenceforth all Divine truth proceeds from Him. This Divine truth is light to the angels, which light is also that which illuminates our internal sight, which is that of the understanding. ... It has for its objects in the spiritual understanding the truths which are called the truths of faith; but in the natural understanding it has for its objects truths of the civil state which relate to what is just, and also truths of the moral state which relate to what is reputable. (Number 8861)
Who is Jehovah, our God? On the answer to this question depends the nature of our worship of God. What God do we worship?
As we have said, the entire Old Testament is a prophecy of the coming of the Lord, but there are some verses which are more obvious prophecies of His coming than others, and are commonly recognized as such; many of these are quoted in the New Testament. The obvious prophecies clearly teach that it was Jehovah (the Lord) who was to come into the world. For example, the last two verses of the Old Testament read:
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of Jehovah [the Lord] : And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. (Malachi 4:5,6) (In place of "Jehovah," "the LORD" is used in the King James translation of the Bible.)
In reference to this, Jesus said:
For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. (Matthew 11:13-15)
But the angel said unto him [Zacharias].... And many of the children of Israel shall he [John the Baptist] turn to the Lord their God. And he shall go before him in the spirit and power of Elias, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, ... to make ready a people prepared for the Lord. (Luke 1:16-17)
Jehovah [the Lord] is called the only Saviour and Redeemer, as in Isaiah:
"I, even I, am Jehovah, and beside me there is no savior." (43:11) Who hath declared this from ancient time? . .. Have not I, Jehovah? ... a just God and a Savior; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved . . . for I am God, and there is none else. (45:21,22)
I, Jehovah, am thy Savior and thy Redeemer. (49:26)
Yet I am Jehovah [the Lord] thy God . . . and thou shalt know no god but me; for there is no savior beside me. (Hosea 13:4)
Thou, Jehovah, art our father, our redeemer; thy name is from everlasting. (Isaiah 63:16)
He [Jehovah] bowed the heavens also, and came down. (II Samuel 22:10; Psalm 18:9)
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of Jehovah. . . . Behold, the Lord Jehovah will come with a strong hand. ... He shall feed his flock like a shepherd. (Isaiah 40:3,10,11)
From the above, it is clear that it was Jehovah who came into the world as our Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. When it says in the opening words of the Ten Commandments, as addressed to Christians, "I am Jehovah thy God," we must think of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is God and man, now present in His Divine Human, for the Gospel says:
No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son ... he hath manifested Him. (John 1:18)
Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, . . . Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip ? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew 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 14:6-11)
Jehovah was then evidently in the Lord, as our soul is in our humanthe invisible God in the visible Godand we can approach God only in His Divine Human. This is the great truth concerning which the Lord said: "I thank thee, 0 Father . . . because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes" (Matthew 11:25), for the sophisticated, those who are proud of their learning, have a profound aversion to this truth. Such are unwilling to bow down to our Lord, who came into the world and made His Human to be God, having, as He said, "All power ... in heaven and in earth!" (Matthew 28:18.)
The Ten Commandments involve all things of man's life. If one keeps the Ten Commandments for the sake of God and for the sake of the Kingdom of God, and not merely for the sake of himself and his reputation in the world, he comes to love the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength. The Lord then comes to reign universally in the Kingdom of God which is within him, and also in man's earth or land, which is the human in which man lives in the world.
"Which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt." This signifies that man is made free from the power of the world and the flesh, free from the power of evil inflowing from hell.
This signifies that a man must not attempt to think truths from any source other than the Lord, for the Lord is the only source of truth, for, as He says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." (John 14:6.)
If a man raises his mind to heaven, truths flow into his mind from the Lord. In ancient times, men made many gods and worshipped them. Modern man does not make gods in the same way, yet any idea which he makes out of the conceit of his own intelligence or the evil desires of his heart is a thing that he worships and is, therefore, to him a god. Jesus said: "There shall arise false Christs, and false prophets." (Matthew 24:24.)
False Christs and false prophets signify false doctrines which come out of the conceit of one's own intelligence. When a man is unwilling, on account of his conceit, to submit himself to the rule of our Lord—when he does not trust in the Word of the Lord, but in himself—he immediately begins to worship other gods, that is, the concoctions of his own imagination. These are the modern man's graven images, likenesses or counterfeits of things in heaven above that is, false theological things; in the earth beneath false philosophical and psychological things; and in the water under the earth—false sensuous and scientific things. These are the gods which so many modern men worship in place of our Lord and Savior.
In recent years it has become customary to speak of creating an image of a man or organization in order that such an image may be adored or admired, and much effort is put into the creating of such an image. In a word, it is not the man himself that is adored, but the image that is made of him. To adore an image of a man is far worse than to adore images of wood or stone, as is done by simple primitive peoples.
A name stands for a man and all that is known about him, and thus for a man's quality. In ordinary language we speak of a man's good name, or of a man with a bad name, signifying the quality of a man or his reputation. We read in the book of Revelation: "His name [the Lamb's] shall be in their foreheads." (22:4.) That is, they will have a new quality from the Lord. The Lord is made known to us in the Word and in genuine doctrine from the Word. Wherefore, to take the name of Jehovah in vain means not only to use the names of God disrespectfully, but also to make light of the Word of God and, especially, to immerse the things of religion in worldly and political matters in such a way as to advance one's self-interest. Especially do those take the Lord's name in vain who live an outwardly Christian or holy life and inwardly have no living faith, and also those who make much of faith but lead an evil life. With such, either the will looks toward heaven but the understanding looks toward hell, or the understanding looks toward heaven and the will toward hell. Such, therefore, have a divided mind. It is such who are meant by the "lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot," of whom it is said, "I will spue thee out of my mouth." (Revelation 3:16.) Of such it is especially said: "For Jehovah will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain." (Exodus 20:7.)
Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of Jehovah thy God; in it thou shalt not do any work . . . For in six days Jehovah made heaven and earth, the sea and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day; wherefore Jehovah blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it. (Exodus 20: 8-11)
If we believe that there is a Divine end or purpose in creation, that end and purpose must be the conjunction of God and man. Material creation must then be regarded as one of the means to this end. The things of creation have no living significance unless they are in the mind of man; a created world in which there is no consciousness is useless and meaningless. The things of heaven and the things of the world can be in man's mind. The Lord said: "The Kingdom of God is within you." (Luke 17:21.) Certainly the things of the world are also within. A man without the five bodily senses could know nothing; sensation is the ultimate means of forming the mind. But how the mind, with its understanding, its thoughts, its loves, and its desires, is formed on the basis of sensation is a miracle which no one can comprehend. The lower or external mind is opened first; then the Kingdom of God can be formed within it. The lower mind is the earth or kingdom of the world within you. The inner mind is heaven or the Kingdom of Heaven within you. These kingdoms are the ends of creation and are spiritually meant by: "For in six days Jehovah made heaven and earth." (Exodus 20:11.)
It is the Lord who creates the Kingdom of Heaven and earth in the mind of man, but at first it appears as if a man created his own mind by study and application. Man has to struggle as if of himself to bring his mind into order; he has to combat the disorder of his mind. It is this that is signified by "Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work." (Exodus 20:9.) Finally, a man totally submits himself to the Lord and comes into a state of peace and rest. Looking back then, he can recognize that the Lord has created all things within him. Wherefore, when a man has come to a state of peace or rest, he sees that it is the Lord who can now rest from the combat. This is what is meant by "Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy." (Exodus 20:8.) Man then lives a life of love to God and his neighbor, free from labor and combat. He does his work, spiritual and natural, freely from the inspiration of the Lord; his mind is at rest. To remember the sabbath day is to keep perpetually in the thought the belief that it is the Lord who has brought him to this state of peace and rest.
The Lord also, when in the world, went through combats and labors, until He fully united the Divine to the Human and the Human to the Divine and thus came to a Divine peace or rest. From Him comes all peace of soul and rest of mind. Wherefore He said: "The Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day." (Matthew 12:8.) And again: "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid." (John 14:27.)
The Lord said, "And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven." (Matthew 23:9.)
Wherefore, spiritually seen, God is our Father. That our heavenly Father is the Lord Jesus Christ is taught in Isaiah, where we read: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called . . . The mighty God, The everlasting Father." (9:6.)
It is known in the Church that the genuine Church is the bride and wife of the Lord and is our spiritual mother, from whom we are born again.
To honor includes to love, for honor without love means little, as does also love without honoring. Separate loving and honoring, and neither is of value.
We have said that the genuine Church is our spiritual mother, that is, the Church which is truly the Kingdom of God, or the Church insofar as the good of love and the truth of faith reign. So-called churches often have things ruling in them which do not originate in love from the Lord, or love to the Lord and one's neighbor; things such as ambitions, pride, envy, the love of power, and jealousy often enter into churches and acquire the upper seats there because the Kingdom of God is not in them. Wherefore, insofar as such things are in the so-called church, it is not a spiritual mother. The church is our spiritual mother insofar as it is in the spirit of the Word of the Lord and is formed by this spirit.
To kill, spiritually seen, is to take away spiritual life from another. Anything we may say which weakens a man's faith, which takes away innocence; anything we do which makes others lose faith in God, in His Word and in His Kingdom, or in His Providence or Mercy is spiritual murder. As we have already pointed out, the Lord taught that hatred involves killing, for all hatred does harm to the soul.
To kill also involves killing the faith in the Lord within oneself. Anyone who comes to deny that the Lord Jesus Christ is God, having all power in heaven and earth, kills the Lord in himself; that is, he kills the Lord's power to work in him, so that the Lord, as far as he is concerned, is no longer living. This is the meaning of the words, "And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him [the beast], whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world." (Revelation 13:8.) That is, they refer to those who have not acknowledged the Lord in His Divine Human from the beginning of the Church.
In relation to the story of Joseph we have already treated adultery, but we shall add the following:
The Lord when in the world said that "whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart." (Matthew 5:28.)
Not only is the adultery of the heart most widespread in so-called Christian lands, but actual adultery is becoming shockingly widespread, and with very many people there is no conscience in relation to this. Every act has a spiritual cause. The prevalence of natural adultery has its source in spiritual adultery. Spiritual marriage is the marriage of love and wisdom or of good and truth. Spiritual adultery is the adulteration of love by false ideas and the falsification of truth by evil loves, especially the adulteration or falsification of the Word of the Lord.
Every vain, proud, and sophisticated man adulterates the Word when he reads it, for he interprets it to favor his own self-interest. He "goes a whoring after other gods," that is, he interprets it in such a way as to favor his love of himself and makes his opinions false gods which he worships. He makes his church a chosen people, haughtily standing far above all others, forgetting the words of the Lord, "That servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not himself, neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many stripes." (Luke 12:47.) It is therefore the vain and proud leaders of the church who receive the greatest condemnation. A wise man knows that of himself he can do nothing good and looks to the Lord continually to teach, enlighten, and lead him lest he be lost. The vanity of the heart is the cause of both spiritual and natural adultery.
Where there is little faith in the Deity of the Lord and the Divinity of His Word; where adultery is prevalent; where the name of God is abused; where false statements are made with no conscience about causing harm; and where dishonesty is commonplace, a country is not Christian, and churches in such countries in which but few of the members are profoundly distressed at such happenings are Christian in name only. Between such churches the ecumenical spirit is of no significance.
We have already treated of stealing, but shall add the following: To steal, regarded spiritually, is to take away a man's spiritual faith and knowledges. It also involves claiming anything which is one's neighbor's for oneself, as, for example, claiming ideas which one has got from someone else as one's own original ideas, especially claiming inspirations which one has been given from God out of heaven as one's own. We read: "A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven." (John 3:27.)
All that is good and true comes to man from the Lord out of heaven. If a man does not ascribe such things to the Lord from whom they came, he steals from the Lord. The Word of the Lord was given from heaven, but if the light by which the Word is read and the understanding obtained is not also given from heaven, the things of the Word remain in man's mind as a dead letter.
Anyone who says that the truths which man has are only human opinions steals from the Lord, for human opinions cannot be ascribed to God, but are necessarily claimed as man's own.
Man is faced with this great problem. To begin with, nearly everything of spiritual truth is obscure. Man is sure of very little in regard to the truths of faith. Many of his ideas are false. Man may imagine that he has been inspired by a new idea, and yet the idea may be false. Now, to ascribe a false idea to the Lord as being an inspiration out of heaven is a serious matter. It is only slowly that a man comes into a clear spiritual light in which he can see clearly what is from heaven and what are his own human and fantastic ideas.
It may be better for a man to believe that his ideas are merely human and his own than out of vanity to ascribe ideas that are of his own concoction to God and therefore to regard them as Divine. A man should, however, progress until he comes to acknowledge that all the truth which he thinks and all the good which he does are the Lord's.
We read in the Arcana Coelestia of Swedenborg: "A man . . . cannot be admitted into heaven until he acknowledges at heart that nothing of good or truth is from himself, but all from the Lord, and that whatever is from himself is nothing but evil." (Number 5758.) Furthermore, we read: 'To steal' denotes to claim for self that which is the Lord's, namely, good and truth; and as in the beginning of regeneration all do this, and as this is the first state of innocence, the expression is milder than it sounds in the letter." (Number 4002.)
Spiritual theft is committed by the heads of churches, or ministers and priests, who claim special powers and inspiration on account of their position or ordination. An office in the Church does bring enlightenment if a man is humble, if he submits himself to the Lord and thus acquires wisdom. But to claim wisdom and inspiration on account of the office comes from pride and leads to folly; for wisdom comes from being born again from the Lord and not on account of being exalted by the Church.
In the spiritual sense, to bear false witness is to call the good evil, or truth falsity. As an example of calling what is good evil, consider the following: There are many who think that it is charitable to treat those who commit crimes or even those who harm others by slander with great leniency. Such persons place the imagined welfare of undeserving individuals above the welfare of society. Thus they call the good of those who act with reasonable severity evil.
It is very common for persons to bear witness against the truth. When a new truth is being born into the world, many will declare it to be false and bring many things to witness against it, even from the Word of God, which they misunderstand.
When a new idea appears which is obviously of significance, a man should examine it with an open mind and pray for enlightenment. Many, instead of this, view a new idea from prejudices of many kinds, from habits of thought practiced from childhood, from the rut of professional opinion, or from fear of the reaction of others. This fault is the worst of all with those who are in a profession, such as ministers or medical doctors. Many, from the pride of their profession, are unwilling even to consider open-mindedly anything which comes from others without a high standing in their branch of the profession, and are still more prejudiced against it if it comes from one outside the profession.
The supreme example of this was the trial of our Lord: "The chief priests, and elders, and all the council, sought false witness against Jesus, to put him to death; But found none. ... At the last came two false witnesses, And said, This fellow said, I am able to destroy the temple of God, and to build it in three days. . . . Jesus saith unto him [the high priest] . . . Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy. . . . What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death." (Matthew 26:59-65.)
Here we note that those who bore witness took the words which the Lord had said and, applying them in a merely literal way, contrary to their real meaning, used them to bear false witness against the Lord. We may in our hearts condemn those who did this; but every man who is proud in his profession and in the conceit of his intelligence acts in the same way toward a truth and at times persecutes those who bring forth a truth, if he sees it as a threat to his professional standing. It is only those with a "broken heart and contrite spirit" who are willing to accept a truth which will manifest their ignorance and the disorders of their own lives. We should therefore take the commandment not to bear false witness as a great warning.
The preceding commandments treat of things which are not to be done with the body. This commandment treats of the things of the spirit, of desires that are to be shunned. Coveting comes from the love of self and the love of the world as opposed to the love of God and one's neighbor. If a man does not shun these evils of his will, he can never come to a genuine love of God and his neighbor. The evils mentioned in the former commandments are acts; yet not only must evil acts be shunned, but also the desires of the will from which they proceed. If a man is to be saved, he must examine himself and repent not only as to his acts, but also as to his desires from which the acts proceed. If a man would know his ruling loves, let him reflect as to what he concentrates on. What does he think about in his free time; what gives him the greatest delight? Are they things of love to God and the neighbor, or are they things of his ambitions, his pleasures, and his selfish desires? It is said in the Arcana Coelestia by Swedenborg:
Man is not allowed to divide his mind [namely, his will and understanding] . . . that is, to understand and speak truth, and to will and do evil; for then the one faculty would look upward or toward heaven, and the other downward or toward hell, and thus the man would hang between the two. But let him know that the will carries him away, and the understanding favors. . . .
Nothing is more necessary to man than to know whether heaven be in him, or hell. ... In order that he may know this, it is necessary that he should know what good is, and what evil, for good makes heaven, and evil makes hell; the doctrine of charity teaches about both. (Numbers 7180 and 7181)
If a man will look to the Lord, he can be granted to see how heaven or hell rules in him. He can then shun the things of hell and receive the things of heaven, not by his own power, but by the power of the Lord in him. But if man does not do this, as if from himself, the Lord cannot do it for him, for this would be to destroy man's freedom and thus his manhood.
The last words of the commandment tell us we are not to covet "his ox or his ass or any thing that is thy neighbor's."
A commandment which was written by "the finger of God" must be an important and eternal truth. Nowadays few have an ox or an ass or covet one. From this it can be seen that there must be more involved in the Word than appears in the letter. An ox, in the spiritual sense, represents natural good, that is, external good things which man does for his neighbor. Such things serve the internal things of the spirit. They serve the inner things of the spirit of charity which look to man's eternal welfare. The primary use of the ox was to plow the ground. By being useful to our neighbor, we prepare the ground of the mind for more internal usefulness for the things of the spirit.
An ass stands for knowledges in the external or outer memory; such knowledges serve the thinking of the spirit of man: they prepare man's mind for inspirations of the spirit. Those who do not do their duty are often envious of those who do, as illustrated by the five foolish virgins, who coveted the oil in the vessels of the five wise virgins. (Matthew 25:8.)
We have presented a few things, but the Ten Commandments, which are in the holy of holies of the Church, contain infinitely more things than have ever entered into the mind of man.
The explanations of the stories from Genesis and Exodus are based on the Arcana Coelestia of Emanuel Swedenborg. As was said before, this is a large work of twelve good-sized volumes, unfolding the inner meaning of Genesis and Exodus. The interested reader is referred to this work. But the reader may be warned that to enter into this work is not so easy. In the first place, there is the language. Every study involves new words, or words used with special meanings. A man commencing a serious study of a science or philosophy has to acquire a vocabulary. In the case of the writings of Swedenborg, this is not nearly so difficult as in many other studies, but it does require effort, I know Zulus and Basutos in Africa with little education who, from practice, can more easily read the writings of Swedenborg than they can read a newspaper or a novel.
The greatest difficulty in reading the writings of Swedenborg is that they treat of things that are not well known. Most people have reflected and meditated little on what takes place in the mind and how the mind develops and grows spiritually, how the Kingdom of Heaven "within you" is formed, and what pertains to that kingdom. It is therefore only gradually, as the mind ponders these things, that the understanding of them develops. But what is more important, a man can really understand only that which he has experienced. It is therefore only insofar as man has struggled with spiritual concerns and experienced them in his life that he comes into real light on the matter; and this comes little by little. Many have had the experience of sections of the Writings of Swedenborg, when first read, seeming difficult and tedious, but when read later, after the reader has undergone new spiritual experiences, they are felt to be alive and inspiring. Another difficulty is that, with a long work, at the first reading it is difficult to follow the line of development that runs throughout and gives it significance, a significance that at first cannot be realized.
Also, there are many things stated that are brief and are not illustrated whose significance can be grasped only by meditation. For example, there are innumerable things which represent good and truth. The truth of faith, as we have already shown and shall show in the following chapter, is represented by light, water, wine, blood, rock, and innumerable other things—whereas the good of love is represented by fire or heat, by bread, flesh, ground, and innumerable other things.
The great difference between these natural objects, which appear to have little in common, is obvious. We have few words to express the things of the Kingdom of Heaven within, all of which have to do with the good of love and the truth of faith. Indeed, there are as many kinds of truth and good as there are objects in nature; and these all have totally different characteristics, differing as much as light and rock, or as flame and ground. These differences can often be comprehended only by reflecting and meditating on the characteristics of the object mentioned, its function and usefulness, and then coming to see the nature of the good or truth to which the natural object corresponds. As this is frequently not illustrated in the Writings of Swedenborg but only the general idea presented, it takes much meditation to come to a living idea.
The best-known work of Swedenborg is the book entitled Heaven and Hell. A large part of this work describes things seen in heaven and hell, such as the houses of angels and spirits, their clothing, their gardens, and all things of their surroundings, and the relation of the angels to these.
Everything in heaven corresponds to and exists according to the state of mind of the angels. The Kingdom of Heaven around them is an image of the Kingdom of God within them. And in hell, the hell around them is nothing but an image of the hell within them.
If one has the Kingdom of Heaven within, little by little one can come to see how this kingdom is represented in the things seen by the angels outside of themselves. If, however, the Kingdom of Heaven is not in man, and if man has no idea of the nature of that kingdom, when he reads a book like Heaven and Hell, in the outward description or letter of the book he sees nothing of the essential living things within. Wherefore to understand such a work requires not only meditation, but also a spiritual development involving many inner experiences, and this comes only slowly.
We have considered various chapters of the Old Testament ; we shall now give an explication of a chapter of the New Testament. We read:
Jesus therefore, being weaned with his journey, sat thus on the well; and it was about the sixth hour. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water; Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. . . . Jesus . . . said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. . . . Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again : But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:6,10,13,14)
The Lord in this passage was speaking to the woman of Samaria. The Samaritans were despised by the Jews and were not considered true worshippers of Jehovah. The Samaritans represent and stand for the Gentiles, and for the simple. Here the woman of Samaria represents those who have a simple understanding of the Word—those who are not learned but who love the literal sense of the Word and are open to instruction from the Lord. The Jews in the unfavorable sense represent the learned who have formed false ideas of religion according to their conceit and love of themselves and despise those who have a simple love of the literal sense of the Word. The well was Jacob's well. Jacob's well represents, or stands for, the literal or natural sense of the Word, and the waters thence, the external or literal understanding of the Word. The Lord, sitting on the well, represents the spiritual or internal sense of the Word, which seen spiritually is the Lord Himself, who is the Word, the Logos described in the first chapter of John; sitting on the well represents the fact that the spiritual sense of the Word rests on its literal sense.
In Doctrine of the Sacred Scripture, by Emanuel Swedenborg, it is said: "The Doctrine of the church is to be drawn from the sense of the letter of the Word, and is to be confirmed thereby." (Number 50.)
The internal sense of the Word, which is the genuine Doctrine of the church, is drawn from the Word as water is drawn from a well.
It is taught in the Arcana Coelestia that when man is reading the Word, the angels are in the internal sense, and from them the spiritual and even the celestial sense can be communicated to man. As we read: "The literal sense is such that the interior sense can be communicated to man, and also the internal and supreme sense, for man communicates with the three heavens." (Number 4279:2.)
Again: "When man suffers himself to be enlightened by the Word . . . the internal way is opened, thus there is effected influx and communication through heaven from the Lord." (Number 3708.)
This passage speaks of influx and communication through heaven from the Lord. Many in the churches acknowledge the influx of the Lord through heaven, which is imperceptible; but few really believe in the communication of ideas from God out of heaven—perceptible and comprehensible ideas, which may be given to man while he reads and meditates on the Word.
The reason for this can be seen if the truth in the following quotation from the Arcana Coelestia is considered.
Those who are being reformed and are becoming spiritual [in their first state] suppose they do good and think truth from themselves . . . nor do they know otherwise; and when told that all good and truth are from the Lord, they do not indeed reject it, but do not acknowledge it at heart, because they do not feel it, nor interiorly perceive that anything flows in from any other source than themselves. (Number 2678)
That is, they feel they can understand the Word by their own intelligence without enlightenment from the Lord.
As the angels, all of whom were once men on earth, are in the internal sense from the Lord and not from themselves, the internal sense which is communicated is from the Lord, out of heaven. In the above quotations there is an apparent paradox. One statement is that the doctrine is drawn from the sense of the letter of the Word; the other, that it is communicated through heaven from the Lord. The first statement treats of the apparent physical influx, through the bodily senses of seeing and hearing. A man must read and study the Word, apart from which he can know nothing of spiritual truth. The other passage treats of the spiritual influx; for if there is not an influx and reception of the Holy Spirit, that is, of truths communicated from the Lord out of heaven, man is only in the outer forms of truth, but not in the truths themselves.
When the Lord said: "Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst, but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life" (John 4:14), the woman replied: "Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw." The woman here was thinking merely naturally about drawing water from a well. In the same way it is our tendency to think merely naturally about drawing truth from the Word; and when the Lord promises living truth from Himself from within, we may think we can avoid the labor of drawing truth from the Word, as if of ourselves, by study and meditation.
What is the merely natural idea of drawing doctrine from the Word that is represented by the answer of the woman ?
There are those who think they can acquire internal truth by study of the Word and the doctrine, by comparison of passages, and by a knowledge of correspondences or types, or who place all the emphasis on this. Others put all the emphasis on the presence of the Lord and inspiration from the Lord, with little study, meditation, and labor, as if of oneself. Both these attitudes when separated and regarded by themselves are merely natural and do not lead to an opening of the Word. It is only by a conjunction of these two, which, internally seen, is a conjunction or marriage of the Divine and the Human, that man can be admitted into the internal of the Word. Wherefore the Lord's reply to the woman was, "Go call thy husband." To which the woman replied, "I have no husband." (John 4:16,17.)
If we read: "The Doctrine of the Church is to be drawn from the sense of the letter of the Word, and is to be confirmed by it," what idea do we have? Do we think this is just a matter of the understanding, or do we realize that it is primarily a matter of the love and the life? The sense of the letter of the Word is not the sense of the letter of the Word in us unless we have lived it. If we do not live according to the sense of the letter, the sense of the letter with us is mere fallacy, from which no genuine truth or teaching can be drawn. The first thing is therefore to live according to the sense of the letter of the Word. But there are two ways of living according to the sense of the letter of the Word. One can, in the first state, live according to the sense of the letter of the Word out of a state of innocence, humility, and modesty, with a holy feeling that it is to be obeyed because it is the Lord's Word. Or one may obey the Word from the opposite spirit, namely, out of vanity, pride, and a feeling of self-righteousness, regarding oneself as one of a "chosen people." In the latter case the Word, even though literally lived in appearance, is still a dead letter in man, from which man can come to no genuine doctrine or teaching.
If a man strives to live according to the sense of the letter, out of a first innocence, the time conies when the Lord may come to him and open his mind to the light of heaven and give him an understanding of the interiors of the Word. The elevation into such truth is from the Lord from within, although drawn out of the sense of the letter, the man cooperating as if of himself.
Then is fulfilled the saying of the Lord to the woman of Samaria: "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit; and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." (John 4:23,24.)
If a man has been so elevated, he must again descend and confirm the doctrine by the sense of the letter. But again this confirmation is nothing, if it is only a matter of the understanding and is not a matter of the love and of the life. If a man has been elevated to the Lord in the internal of the Word, and then descends to the sense of the letter, he sees innumerable things in the sense of the letter which he had not seen beforea whole vision of the sense of the letter out of the internal. He sees many truths of natural life which he could not see before; thus he can be brought to a wonderful change of his natural life. But this is true only if, out of a new internal innocence, he obeys the sense of the letter, which now has a new spirit within it. Thus man confirms the doctrine that has been drawn from the sense of the letter. To confirm is to make firm or strong. In the dictionary the word "confirm" is defined as follows: "To make firm, to establish, to strengthen, as in a habit, spiritually or physically."
By living according to the literal sense, seen in the light of the internal sense, until it becomes a habit, the internal sense is confirmed and strengthened so that it is enduring. If the doctrine is not confirmed by the literal sense, it appears as if man's things are in it and not the Divine of the Lord; and, in fact, if man does not confirm the doctrine by a life according to the literal sense seen in the light of the internal sense, the Lord is not present with man. A man may indeed be temporarily elevated so that he sees the teaching or doctrine which makes one with the internal sense of the Word. But if this is not confirmed by a life according to the sense of the letter, seen in the light of the internal sense, genuine doctrine is not confirmed but is weakened for the man, and in the long run is so dissipated that he no longer acknowledges the truth of doctrine. Internally, if not externally, man comes into a state of opposition to the genuine teaching of the Word. Such states of opposition have often manifested themselves in the church.
Note that when the woman took literally the Lord's words concerning the water which He would give, the Lord did not correct her but told her, "Go, call thy husband." To which she replied, "I have no husband." "Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband; for thou hast had five husbands; and he that thou now hast is not thy husband; in that saidst thou truly. The woman said, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet." (John 4:1619.)
When one is merely affected or moved by the letter of the Word, the Lord in the internal sense does not correct him but tells this ability to be affected or moved by the truth, represented by the woman, to go and bring the internal love conjoined to the desire for truth, out of which one reads the Word, that is, the husband.
To this the affection or desire for the truth replies, "I have no husband," that is, it needs no internal love. The Lord—that is, the internal sense—replies that she had had five husbands, and the one she now has is not her husband; that is, there had been different non-genuine loves out of which man had read the Word, and the one out of which he now reads is not genuine. Having a husband signifies the desire of the truth conjoined with the love of being actively engaged in the things of wisdom; not having a husband signifies just having the love of knowing truth, apart from the love of wisdom. Wisdom is more than intelligence; wisdom exists only with those who live a spiritual life.
If there is something genuine in the affection or love for the true and if there is humility, this causes the affection for the true, represented by the woman, to recognize the voice of the internal truth as a prophet, that is, as the genuine Doctrine of the Church. When such an affection for the true hears from the internal sense of the Word (that is, from the Lord) the teaching that one has not been in the things of wisdom, out of self- acknowledgment it recognizes this truth as being from the Lord, namely, that there has not been in the affection for the truth the internal things of the wisdom of life.
The woman was expecting the Messiah; that is, she believed that a genuine understanding of the Word would be given in the future. "I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. Jesus said, I that speak unto thee am he." (John 4:25,26.) If the affection or love for the truth in man has acknowledged the genuine doctrine of the Church to be a prophet, that is, genuine doctrine, then he is prepared to acknowledge the truth, that It Itself is the Messias, the Christ.
In the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg we read:
Baptism was instituted for a sign that a man is of the Church and for a memorial that he can be regenerated ; for the washing of Baptism is a spiritual washing, which is regeneration. . . . Since everyone who is regenerated also undergoes temptations, which are spiritual combats against evils and falsities, these also are signified by the waters of Baptism. Inasmuch as Baptism is a sign and memorial of these things, man may be baptized as an infant, and if not in his infancy, he may be baptized as an adult. Let those, therefore, who are baptized know that baptism confers neither faith or salvation; but that it testifies that they may receive faith and be saved if they are regenerated. (The New Jerusalem and Its Heavenly Doctrine, Numbers 202-7)
Infants are introduced by Baptism into the Christian heaven, and there angels are assigned to them to take care of them, ... by whom they are kept in a state of receiving faith in the Lord; and as they grow up, and come into their own right and reason, the guardian angels leave them, and they associate with such spirits as make one with their life and faith. (The True Christian Religion, Number 677)
Baptism signifies the cleansing of man's life by a life according to the truths of faith. Water signifies truth, especially the simple truths of the Ten Commandments and the commandments the Lord gave, as stated in the Gospels. When a man lives according to the commandments in their simple form, he is introduced spiritually into the Church. The first truths, as we stated in an earlier chapter of this book, were also represented by the river Jordan, in which the Lord was baptized. A later inner purifying of the spirit is represented by the words of John the Baptist, "He [the Lord] shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and with fire." (Matthew 3:11.)
It is to be noted that the cleansing of one's external life by obedience to the commandments may be entirely different with one person from what it is with another. One person may shun evils from a living faith, because they are sins against God; another may shun evils for the sake of his reputation, or from pride, or from some other worldly end. There also are those of whom the Lord said: "Ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess." (Matthew 23:25.) Note that the Lord spoke these words to the learned in the church. It is the spirit and intentions in the deeds and in obedience to the commandments that are regarded in heaven, and never merely the deeds.
One man may lead an orderly life out of ambition to be regarded as a saint or an outstanding man of the Church. His external may appear to be quite impeccable, and yet he is impure in the sight of heaven; whereas another may strive earnestly to order his life from a love of God and his neighbor, and yet he may at times fall into disorders. He may be among those of whom the Lord said: "The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." (Matthew 26:41.) Man cannot therefore judge from the outward appearance as to whether one will go to heaven or hell. Some, however, misuse the above words of the Lord to excuse a lack of striving with all one's might to order one's external life, or they may minimize the importance of keeping the commandments as the means of salvation. They forget the words of the Lord in reply to the question, "What good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?" To which Jesus replied: "Keep the commandments: . . . Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honor thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." (Matthew 19:16-19.)
If a man falls into evil, he must repent, for no one who is unrepentant can enter heaven; but the repentance must be an actual repentance of the life, not just a repentance of the mouth. A confession that one is a sinner, without a change of life, is of no avail, and the change of life must be both as to the spirit and, as far as possible, as to the acts in the world.
The external sacraments of the Church have their significance from their internal meaning. If the internal meaning is lacking, the external observances are of no account. In the Jewish Church, in place of Baptism and the Holy Supper, circumcision, washings and sacrifices, whole burnt offerings, and feasts were used. Concerning these we read:
Hear the word of the Lord: ... To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord: I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts; and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he goats. . . . Bring no more vain oblations. . . . Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth; they are a trouble unto me. . . . Your hands are full of blood. (Isaiah 1:10-15)
For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. (Hosea 6:6)
The external representative act is significant and important if it has an internal spirit in it. To illustrate: The crowning of a king is significant. But the more important thing is that a king be a good, wise, and just ruler. How much better is a wise uncrowned king than a foolish crowned king! In this connection, the Lord, who was the Christ, the Anointed, the High Priest Himself, was never anointed king in this world, nor was He inaugurated as high priest before men. Surely God will judge according to the heart, and will not condemn anyone because he was not baptized.
But what, in particular, is the significance or signification of Baptism and the Holy Supper?
Baptism is a washing with water; the Holy Supper is a partaking of bread and wine.
As we have said, water stands for truth; for we read: The Lord said:
If any man thirst, let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. [That is, a great abundance of Divine truths.] (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive.) (John 7:37-39)
Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:13,14)
It is remarkable that the Lord's first miracle was the turning of water into wine, that this took place at a marriage feast, and that the water was for the "purifying of the Jews."
That the water in the water pots for the purifying of the Jews has a similar signification to baptism is obvious. The marriage signifies that of the Lord and the Church, and also the marriage of love and wisdom, or of the good and the true. The washing of baptism is the removal of evils by a life lived according to the Divine Truth, as we read: "Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil; Learn to do well." (Isaiah 1:16,17.)
We read not only of the washing in water, but also of the washing in blood. "Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood." (Revelation 1:5.)
Blood and wine also represent the Divine Truth, and by being "washed in the blood of the Lord" is represented being purified from evil by a life lived according to the Divine Truth which proceeds from our Lord. Yet the water we are washed in has a different signification from the blood we are washed in. Water, wine, and the Lord's blood are also said to be drink. In Baptism, water is used; in the Holy Supper, wine and bread. In this lies an arcanum, a hidden thing of great importance. What is the difference between water and wine or blood? Why did the Lord as His first miracle turn water into wine?
We read: "For the law was given by Moses; but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ." (John 1:17.)
Water stands for the Truth of the Divine Word, as we first take it up in the mind from without. This is the Law of our life, by which we regulate our actions. If we obey this truth, shunning all things which are contrary to the truth, because God has so commanded, we are washed with water. The Ten Commandments are often called the Law, or the Law of Moses. Baptism represents the purification by a life lived according to the Divine Law. This is the first thing of reformation, and is represented by Baptism.
At a later state, man comes to that truth which is meant by "Grace and Truth came by Jesus Christ." It is this truth that is represented by the water which the Lord turned into wine. This truth is not so much directed to the acts of the body, but to the mind of man, as can be illustrated by the words of the Lord:
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill. . . . but I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. (Matthew 5:21)
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery; But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. (Matthew 5:27,28)
Here the Lord raises the question of evil from the plane of the body to the plane of the mind and heart. There are many truths by which the mind and heart can be purified. The inner truths which the Lord gives us are of the Holy Spirit, for, apart from the Holy Spirit, these truths cannot be seen in a living way by man. These truths, if they are loved and done, make an inner dwelling place for the Lord in man, so that His words can be fulfilled: "At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you." (John 14:20.)
This inner purification is the "Baptism with the Holy Spirit and fire," by which, after an inner repentance of the mind, the Lord can find a clean dwelling place for Himself with man.
As we have said, water and blood, for which the wine stood, are both spoken of in relation to washing and drinking. There are truths of the letter which cleanse and also are a means for the feeding of man's external life; and there are inner truths which cleanse and feed the inner mind of the heart and soul.
In the Holy Supper, bread, which the Lord calls His body, and wine, which the Lord calls His blood, are eaten and drunk.
In the Writings of Swedenborg, we read: "Bread . . . denotes the Divine Good of the Lord's Divine Love. . . and this received by man. Wine denotes the Divine Truth proceeding out of the Good of the Lord's Divine Love and this received ... by man." (Arcana Coelestia, Number 9393.)
As we have said, the Lord's body is Divine Love in human form, of which the Divine Truth is the blood. Man's spiritual body in heaven is love and charity in human form in an image and likeness of the Lord. And, as man's spiritual love and wisdom are from the Lord, man's spiritual body is fed from the Lord's Divine Body. This is the significance of the Holy Supper.
The great error of many churches is the idea that by being washed in the blood of the Lamb is meant that man is saved by Christ's death on the cross; and the belief that only by faith in this is man saved, rather than by purification by a life according to the Divine good and truth which proceed from our Lord. The passion of the cross was not redemption; it was the last temptation in which the Lord put off all the weaknesses of the human which still remained from His maternal heredity and returned into the pure Divine of His soul, called the Father.
Part ThreeThe Second Coming of the Lord Swedenborg and "The Lord's New Church"