278. That by "returning to the ground whence he was taken" is signified that the church would return to the external man such as it was before regeneration, is evident from the fact that "ground" signifies the external man, as previously stated. And that "dust" signifies what is condemned and infernal, is also evident from what was said of the serpent, which in consequence of being cursed is said to "eat dust." In addition to what was there shown as to the signification of "dust" we may add the following passages from David:
All those who go down to the dust shall bow before Jehovah, and those whose soul He hath not made alive (Ps. 22:29). And in another place:
Thou hidest Thy faces, they are troubled; Thou takest away their breath, they expire, and return to their dust (Ps. 104:29),
which means that when men turn away from the face of the Lord, they expire or die, and thus "return to the dust" that is, are condemned and become infernal.