(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 920

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920. In this verse there is described the worship of the Ancient Church in general, and this by the "altar" and the "burnt- offering" which were the principal things in all representative worship. In the first place, however, we will describe the worship that existed in the Most Ancient Church, and from that show how there originated the worship of the Lord by means of representatives. The men of the Most Ancient Church had no other than internal worship, such as there is in heaven; for with them heaven was in communication with man, so that they made a one; and this communication was perception, of which we have often spoken before. Thus being angelic they were internal men, and although they sensated the external things of the body and the world, they cared not for them; for in each object of sense they perceived something Divine and heavenly. For example, when they saw a high mountain, they perceived an idea, not of a mountain, but of elevation, and from elevation, of heaven and the Lord, from which it came to pass that the Lord was said to dwell in the highest, He himself being called the "Most High and Lofty One;" and that afterwards the worship of the Lord was held on mountains. So with other things; as when they observed the morning, they did not then perceive the morning of the day, but that which is heavenly, and which is like a morning and a dawn in human minds, and from which the Lord is called the "Morning" the "East" and the "Dawn" or "Day-spring." So when they looked at a tree and its leaves and fruit, they cared not for these, but saw man as it were represented in them; in the fruit, love and charity, in the leaves faith; and from this the man of the church was not only compared to a tree, and to a paradise, and what is in him to leaves and fruit, but he was even called so. Such are they who are in a heavenly and angelic idea.
[2] Everyone may know that a general idea rules all the particulars, thus all the objects of the senses, as well those seen as those heard, so much so that the objects are not cared for except so far as they flow into the man's general idea. Thus to him who is glad at heart, all things that he hears and sees appear smiling and joyful; but to him who is sad at heart, all things that he sees and hears appear sad and sorrowful; and so in other cases. For the general affection is in all the particulars, and causes them to be seen in the general affection; while all other things do not even appear, but are as if absent or of no account. And so it was with the man of the Most Ancient Church: whatever he saw with his eyes was heavenly to him; and thus with him everything seemed to be alive. And this shows the character of his Divine worship, that it was internal, and by no means external.
[3] But when the church declined, as in his posterity, and that perception or communication with heaven began to be lost, another state of things commenced. Then no longer did men perceive anything heavenly in the objects of the senses, as they had done before, but merely what is worldly, and this to an increasing extent in proportion to the loss of their perception; and at last, in the closing posterity which existed just before the flood, they apprehended in objects nothing but what is worldly, corporeal, and earthly. Thus was heaven separated from man, nor did they communicate except very remotely; and communication was then opened to man with hell, and from thence came his general idea, from which flow the ideas of all the particulars, as has been shown. Then when any heavenly idea presented itself, it was as nothing to them, so that at last they were not even willing to acknowledge that anything spiritual and celestial existed. Thus did the state of man become changed and inverted.
[4] As the Lord foresaw that such would be the state of man, He provided for the preservation of the doctrinal things of faith, in order that men might know what is celestial and what is spiritual. These doctrinal things were collected from the men of the Most Ancient Church by those called "Cain" and also by those called "Enoch" concerning whom above. Wherefore it is said of Cain that a mark was set upon him lest anyone should kill him (see Gen. 4:15, n. 393, 394); and of Enoch that he was taken by God (Gen. 5:24). These doctrinal things consisted only in significative, and thus as it were enigmatical things, that is, in the significations of various objects on the face of the earth; such as that mountains signify celestial things, and the Lord; that morning and the east have this same signification; that trees of various kinds and their fruits signify man and his heavenly things, and so on. In such things as these consisted their doctrinal things, all of which were collected from the significatives of the Most Ancient Church; and consequently their writings also were of the same nature. And as in these representatives they admired, and seemed to themselves even to behold, what is Divine and heavenly, and also because of the antiquity of the same, their worship from things like these was begun and was permitted, and this was the origin of their worship upon mountains, and in groves in the midst of trees, and also of their pillars or statues in the open air, and at last of the altars and burnt-offerings which afterwards became the principal things of all worship. This worship was begun by the Ancient Church, and passed thence to their posterity and to all nations round about, besides many other things, concerning which of the Lord's Divine mercy hereafter.


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