(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 3701

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3701. And behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. That this signifies infinite and eternal communication and the consequent conjunction; and that from what is lowest there is as it were an ascent, and afterwards when the order is inverted a descent; is evident from the signification of "angels," as being something Divine of the Lord, which is meant by them when they are mentioned in the Word (see n. 1925, 2319, 2821, 3039). That in the present case they signify Divine truth, is evident from their being called the angels "of God," for "God" is named when in the internal sense truth is treated of, but "Jehovah" when good is treated of (n. 2586, 2769, 2807, 2822); and this is the reason why although "Jehovah" is presently named, and it is said, "behold Jehovah standing upon it," still they are here called angels of "God;" for the subject is the truth from which is good, which is here represented by Jacob, as has been frequently said above. That by "ascending and descending on the ladder" is in the supreme sense signified infinite and eternal communication and the consequent conjunction, is evident without further explication. Communication, and the consequent conjunction, cannot be predicated of the Lord's Divine Itself, and of His Divine Human, unless at the same time they are said to be infinite and eternal; for in the Lord all is infinite and eternal; infinite in respect to being, and eternal in respect to manifestation. From all that has been said it is evident that of the "ladder set on the earth, and its head reaching to heaven; and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it," the sum total of the signification is an ascent as it were from what is lowest, and afterwards when the order is inverted, a descent.
[2] How the case is with this ascent and descent, may be seen from what has been said and shown above (n. 3539, 3548, 3556, 3563, 3570, 3576, 3603, 3607, 3610, 3665, 3690). But as this order, which is that of the regeneration of man, and which is described in the internal sense of this and the following verses, is altogether unknown in the church, the nature of it may be further illustrated. It is known that man is born into the nature of his parents, and of his grandfathers, and also of those who have been his ancestors for ages; thus he is born into the hereditary evil of them all successively accumulated, insomuch that as regards what is from himself he is nothing but evil. The result of this is that as to both understanding and will man has been utterly destroyed; and of himself wills nothing of good, and consequently understands nothing of truth; and therefore that which he calls good and believes to be good, is evil; and that which he calls truth and believes to be truth, is falsity. For example: loving himself above others; desiring better for himself than for others; coveting what belongs to another; taking thought for himself alone, and not for others except for the sake of himself. As of himself man is desirous of these things he therefore calls them goods, and also truths; and what is more, if anyone injures or endeavors to injure him in respect to these goods and truths as he calls them, he hates him, and also burns with revenge toward him, desires and even seeks his ruin, and feels delight in it, and this in proportion as he actually confirms himself in such things, that is, in proportion as he more frequently brings them into actual exercise.
[3] When such a person comes into the other life he has the same desires; the very nature which he has contracted in the world by actual life remains, and the delight just referred to is plainly perceived. For this reason such a man cannot be in any heavenly society, in which everyone desires better for others than for himself, but has to be in some infernal society where the delight is similar to his own. This nature is that which must be rooted out while the man lives in the world, which cannot possibly be done except by the Lord through regeneration; that is, by his receiving a totally new will and derivative new understanding; or in other words by being made new in respect to both these faculties. But in order that this may be effected, the man must first of all be reborn as a little child, and must learn what is evil and false, and also what is good and true; for without knowledge he cannot be imbued with any good; for from himself he acknowledges nothing to be good but what is evil, and nothing to be true but what is false.
[4] To this end such knowledges are insinuated into him as are not altogether contrary to those which he had before; as that all love begins from self; that self is to be taken care of first and then others; that good is to be done to such as appear poor and distressed outwardly, no matter what may be their inward character; in like manner that good is to be done to widows and orphans simply because they are so called; and lastly, to enemies in general, whoever they may be; and that thereby a man may merit heaven. These and other such knowledges are those of the infancy of his new life, and are of such a nature that while they derive somewhat from his former life or the nature of his former life, they also derive somewhat from his new life into which he is thereby being introduced; and hence they are such as to admit into them whatever things are conducive to the formation of a new will and a new understanding. These are the lowest goods and truths, from which those who are being regenerated commence, and because these admit into themselves truths that are more interior or nearer to Divine truths, by their means there may also be rooted out the falsities which the man had before believed to be truths.
[5] But they who are being regenerated do not learn such truths simply as memory-knowledges, but as life, for they do these truths; but that they do them is from the beginning of the new will which the Lord insinuates entirely without their knowledge; and insofar as they receive of this new will, so far they receive of these knowledges, and bring them into act, and believe them; but insofar as they do not receive of the new will, so far they are indeed capable of learning such things, but not of bringing them into act, because they care merely for memory-knowledge, and not for life.
[6] This is the state of infancy and childhood in respect to the new life which is about to succeed in place of the former life; but the state of the adolescence and youth of this life is that regard is no longer had to any person as he appears in the external form but to his quality in respect to good; first in civil life, next in moral life, and lastly in spiritual life; and good is that which the man then begins to hold and love in the prior place, and from good to love the person; and at last, when he is still further perfected, he takes care to do good to those who are in good, and this in accordance with the quality of the good in them, and at last he feels delight in doing good to them, because he feels delight in good, and pleasantness in the things that confirm it. These confirmatory things he acknowledges as truths; and they also are the truths of his new understanding, which flow from the goods which are of his new will.
[7] In the degree that he feels delight in this good, and pleasantness in these truths, he has a feeling of what is undelightful in the evils of his former life, and of what is unpleasing in its falsities; and the result is that a separation takes place of the things which are of the former will and the former understanding from the things that are of the new will and the new understanding; and this not in accordance with the affection of knowing such things, but in accordance with the affection of doing them. Consequently the man then sees that the truths of his infancy were relatively inverted, and that the same had been by little and little brought back into a different order, namely, to be inversely subordinate, so that those which at first were in the prior place are now in the posterior place; thus that by those truths which were the truths of his infancy and childhood, the angels of God had ascended as by a ladder from earth to heaven; but afterwards, by the truths of his adult age, the angels of God descended as by a ladder from heaven to earth.


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