(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 3425

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3425. And the shepherds of Gerar strove with Isaac's shepherds. That this signifies that they who taught did not see any such thing therein because the senses appeared opposed, is evident from the signification of "disputing," when the internal sense of the Word is concerned, as being to deny it to be such by saying that they do not see it; and from the signification of "shepherds," as being those who teach (n. 343); and from the signification of "Gerar," as being faith (n. 1209, 2504, 3365, 3384); thus "the shepherds of the valley of Gerar" denote those who acknowledge only the literal sense of the Word. The reason why they see no such thing, that is, no interior sense, is that the two appear opposite, namely, what is in the internal sense, and what is in the literal sense. But their appearing to be opposite does not prove that they are so, for they wholly correspond; and the reason they appear opposite is that they who see the Word so are in what is opposite.
[2] It is the same in the case of a man who is in opposition within himself, that is, whose external or natural man is in entire disagreement with his internal or spiritual man. Such a man sees that which is of the internal or spiritual man as opposed to himself, when yet in respect to the external or natural man, he himself is in that which is opposed; and if he were not in this, so that his external or natural man yielded obedience to the internal or spiritual man, the two would wholly correspond. For example: the man who is in what is opposed believes that in order for him to receive eternal life riches are to be renounced, as well as all the pleasures of the body and of the world, thus the delights of life; such things being supposed to be opposed to spiritual life, whereas in themselves they are not so, but correspond, because they are means to an end, namely, that the internal or spiritual man may enjoy them so as to be able to perform the goods of charity, and also may live content in a healthful body. The ends alone are what cause the internal man and the external either to be opposed or to correspond; they are opposed when the riches, pleasures, and delights here spoken of become the ends, for in this case the spiritual and celestial things which are of the internal man are despised and derided, nay, are rejected; but they correspond when such things are not made ends, but means to higher ends, namely, to those things which belong to the life after death, thus to the heavenly kingdom and the Lord Himself. In this case bodily and worldly things appear to the man as scarcely anything in comparison; and when he thinks about them, he values them only as means to ends.
[3] From this it is evident that the things which appear opposed are not opposed in themselves; but they appear so because men are in what is opposed. They who are not in what is opposed, act, speak, and acquire riches, and also enjoy pleasures, similarly as do those who are in what is opposed, insomuch that in the outward appearance they can scarcely be distinguished from each other. The reason is that their ends alone are what distinguish them; or what is the same, their loves; for loves are ends. But although in the outward form, or as to the body, they appear alike, yet in the inward form, or as to the spirit, they are utterly unlike. The spirit of one who is in correspondence-that is, with whom the external man corresponds to the internal-is fair and beautiful, such as is heavenly love in form; but the spirit of one who is in what is opposed-that is, with whom the external man is opposed to the internal-however great may be the outward resemblance to the other, is black and ugly, such as is the love of self and of the world, that is, such as is contempt of others and hatred in form.
[4] The case is the same with a host of things in the Word; that is to say, the things in the literal sense appear opposed to those in the internal sense; when yet they are by no means opposed, but wholly correspond. For example: it is frequently said in the Word that Jehovah or the Lord is angry, is wroth, destroys, and casts into hell; when yet He is never angry, and still less does He cast anyone into hell. The former is of the sense of the letter, but the latter is of the internal sense; and these appear opposed, but this is because the man is in what is opposed. In the same way the Lord appears as a sun to the angels who are in heaven, and thence as vernal warmth, and as light at dawn; but to the infernals He appears as something quite opaque, and thence as wintry cold, and as midnight darkness. Consequently to the angels He appears in love and charity, but to the infernals in hatred and enmity; thus to the latter according to the sense of the letter-that He is angry, is wroth, destroys, and casts into hell; but to the former according to the internal sense-that He is never angry and wroth, and still less destroys and casts into hell; so that when things are being treated of in the Word that are contrary to the Divine, it is inevitable that they should be presented in accordance with the appearance. Moreover it is the Divine which the wicked change into what is diabolical that works in this way; and therefore insofar as they approach the Divine, so far they cast themselves into infernal torments.
[5] The case is the same with the Lord's words in the prayer: "Lead us not into temptation." The sense according to the letter is that He leads into temptation; but the internal sense is that He leads no one into temptation, as is well known (see n. 1875). The same is true of all other things that belong to the literal sense of the Word.


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