4783. To comfort him. That this signifies to interpret from the sense of the letter of the Word, is evident from the signification of "comforting," as being to allay unrest of mind by the hope of something (n. 3610), here unrest or mourning over destroyed good and truth; and as this mourning cannot be allayed except by interpretations from the Word, and as the sons and daughters of Jacob are here treated of, by whom are signified those who are in falsities and evils (n. 4781, 4782), therefore by "comforting" are signified the interpretations which are made from the sense of the letter. For the sense of the letter has general things, which are as vessels, and can be filled with truths and also with falsities, and thus be so explained as to favor anything; and because they are general things, they are also comparatively obscure, having light from no other source than the internal sense; for the internal sense is in the light of heaven, because it is the Word for the angels; but the sense of the letter is in the light of the world, because it is the Word for men before they come into the light of heaven from the Lord, from which they then have enlightenment. From this it is evident that the sense of the letter is of service to the simple for initiation into the internal sense.
 That by interpretations from the sense of the letter the Word can be so explained as to favor anything, is very manifest from the fact that all kinds of doctrines, and even of heresies, are thus confirmed, as for instance the dogma concerning faith separate is confirmed by these words of the Lord:
God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but should have eternal life (John 3:16);
from which words, and also from other passages, it is concluded that faith alone without works is what gives eternal life; and when those who are in this faith have persuaded themselves of this, they no longer attend to what the Lord so often said concerning love to Him, and concerning charity and works (n. 1017, 2371, 3934), thus not to what is said in John: "As many as received, to them gave He power to be sons of God, even to them that believe in His name; who were born not of bloods, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:12, 13). If they are told that no one can believe in the Lord unless he is in charity, they straightway take refuge in interpretations such as these - that the law has been abrogated, that they were born in sins and so cannot do good of themselves, and that they who practice cannot but claim merit for themselves; and they also confirm these things from the sense of the letter of the Word, as from what is said in the parable of the Pharisee and the publican (Luke 18:10-14) and from other passages; although these do not at all apply to the case.
 They who are in faith separate cannot believe otherwise than that anyone can be admitted into heaven out of grace, no matter how he has lived, thus that not the life but the faith remains with man after death. This they confirm also from the sense of the letter of the Word, when yet it is evident from the very spiritual sense of the Word that the Lord has mercy toward everyone, thus that if heaven were of mercy or grace, regardless of what the life has been, everyone would be saved. The reason why they who are in faith separate so believe is that they do not at all know what heaven is, and this because they do not know what charity is. If they knew how much peace and joy and happiness there is in charity, they would know what heaven is; but this is altogether hidden from them.
 Again, they who are in faith separate cannot believe otherwise than that they will rise again with the body, and this only at the day of judgment; which they also confirm from many passages of the Word explained according to the sense of the letter, and at the same time taking no thought of what the Lord said concerning the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:22-31); and of what He said to the thief: "Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with Me in paradise" (Luke 23:43); and of what He said at other times. The reason why they who are in faith separate so believe is that if they were told that the body will not rise again, they would wholly deny any resurrection, for they do not know nor apprehend what the internal man is, since no one can know what the internal man is, and his life after death, save he who is in charity, for charity is of the internal man.
 They who are in faith separate cannot believe otherwise than that the works of charity consist solely in giving to the poor and in assisting the miserable, and this they also confirm from the sense of the letter of the Word; when yet the works of charity consist in doing what is just and equitable, each in his own employment, from the love of what is just and equitable, and of what is good and true.
 They who are in faith separate see nothing else in the Word than what confirms their dogmas, for they have no interior insight; they who are not in the affection of charity having only an external sight, or lower insight, from which no one can possibly see higher things, since they appear to him like darkness. Hence they see falsities as truths, and truth as falsities, and thus by interpretations from the sense of the letter they destroy the good pasture, and defile the clear waters of the sacred fountain or the Word, according to these words in Ezekiel:
Is it a small thing to you that ye eat up the good pasture, and trample with your feet the remainder of your pastures? Ye drink the settling of the waters, the remains ye disturb with your feet; ye strike with your horns all the infirm till ye have scattered them abroad (Ezek. 34:18, 21).