7502. Behold the hand of Jehovah shall be on thy cattle which is in the field. That this signifies the vastation of the truth and good of faith which they have from the church wherein they had been, is evident from the signification of "the hand of Jehovah being on anyone," as being a plague or punishment; for by "hand" is signified power (see n. 4931-4937, 6292, 6947, 7188, 7189), and by "the hand of Jehovah," omnipotence (n. 878, 3387); and because by those who are in the externals of the church it is believed from the appearance that every plague or punishment comes from Jehovah (for they attribute all things to His power), therefore by "the hand of Jehovah being on anyone" is signified punishment, here vastation, for the degrees of the vastation of those who infested were punishments: from the signification of "cattle," as being the truths and goods of faith (n. 6016, 6045, 6049); and from the signification of "field" as being the church (n. 2971, 3310). That "field" denotes the church is because the seeds sown in a field signify the truths which are of faith, and also because the produce from the field, such as wheat, barley, spelt, and so forth, denotes the goods which are of charity, and the truths which are of faith, thus such things as belong to the church.
 As regards the infernal spirits who infest the upright in the other life being vastated as to the truths of faith that belong to the church, be it known that those who infest the upright in the other life are those who when living in the world had belonged to the church; for those who have not belonged to the church, cannot infest others who do belong to it, because falsities contrary to the truths of faith of the church are the means by which they infest. Those who have been outside the church cannot infest anyone by means of such things, because they had not known them. (That they who have made a profession of faith and have lived a life of evil, in the other life turn to falsities and infest the upright, see n. 7097, 7127, 7317.) Lest therefore the truth of faith, which they have had from the doctrine of their church when they lived in the world (for they carry with them into the other life all that they had known in the life of the body, nor is anything wanting) should give them any light from heaven, and lest they should apply the things of light to defend the falsities and evils which are of hell, every such thing is taken away from them, and they are finally left to the evils of their life and the falsities thence derived. It is this vastation that is here treated of.
 The reason why those who have been of the church and have lived a life of evil are thus gradually vastated before they are cast into hell, is that they had known the truths of faith, and thereby had had communication with heaven. The heavenly societies with which they have had communication, and also still have it in the other life, cannot be separated from them except by degrees. For such is the order in heaven from the Lord that nothing is done violently, but all things in freedom as from themselves; therefore those heavenly societies are not wrested from them, but are gradually separated, so that the evil spirits seem to depart of their own accord. From all this it is now evident how the case is with the vastation of those who have known the truths of faith that belong to the church, and yet have led a life of evil.
 That such is the case no one can know except from revelation, for man has no knowledge of the things that exist in the other life except from revelation; and as man is but little solicitous to explore the truths and goods which are of faith from the Word (for he is in no affection of truth for its own sake, still less for the sake of life), therefore such things are not revealed to him; nevertheless they stand forth in the Word (and this in respect to every series and process) in its internal sense. As therefore the man of the church is in no affection of knowing truth from the Word, but only in the affection of confirming the doctrinal things of his own church whether true or false, for worldly reasons, therefore he knows nothing whatever about the state after death, nothing about heaven, and nothing about hell; he does not even know what makes heaven and what makes hell with man. Nay, so ignorant are men that they teach and believe that everyone can be admitted into heaven; some by a power which they have arrogated to themselves; some by the mercy of the Lord, no matter how they had lived; and scarcely any know that heaven is given to man by means of a life of charity and faith during his life in the world, and that this life remains. These things have been said in order that the quality may be known of that man of the church who professes faith alone and cares not about the life of faith; for these are they who are represented by the Egyptians here and in what follows.