(AC) - A Disclosure of the Hidden Treasures of Heaven Contained in the Holy Scripture or Word of the Lord, Together with Amazing Things Seen in the World of Spirits and in the Heaven of Angels

AC 2179

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2179. Abraham ran unto the herd. That this signifies natural good, is evident from the signification of the oxen and bullocks of the herd-to be explained presently. That the beasts of the herd and of the flock signify such things as are in man, is evident from what has been shown in volume 1 (n. 45-46, 142-143, 246, 714-715, 719, 776), and also from what was said concerning the beasts used in the sacrifices (n. 1823). It may seem surprising that the animals named in the Word, and also those offered in the sacrifices, should signify goods and truths, or what is the same, things celestial and spiritual, but the reason of this may be briefly stated.
[2] In the world of spirits various representatives are presented to view, and withal animals are often presented before the eyes of the spirits there, such as horses variously caparisoned, oxen, sheep, lambs, with other animals of various kinds, sometimes such as are never seen on the earth, but are only representative. Such animals were also seen by the prophets, as described in the Word, and were from the same source. The animals that appear in the world of spirits are representative of affections of good and truth, and also of evil and falsity. Good spirits know perfectly well what they signify, and thus also gather from them what the angels are conversing about; for the speech of angels, passing down into the world of spirits, is sometimes presented in this way. For example, when horses appear, they know that the speech of the angels is about the things of the understanding; when oxen and bullocks, that it is about natural goods; when sheep, that it is about rational goods, and probity; when lambs, that it is about goods still more internal and about innocence; and so on.
[3] As the men of the Most Ancient Church had communication with spirits and angels, and constantly had visions and also dreams such as the prophets had, the consequence was that whenever they saw any beast, there occurred to them the idea of what it signified. Representatives and significatives originated in this way, and remained long after their times; and at length became so venerated from their antiquity that men wrote by mere representatives; books not so written being held in no esteem; and those written within the church being of no sanctity. From this and other hidden causes, concerning which of the Lord's Divine mercy elsewhere, the books of the Word also were so written.


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