498. And to smite the earth with every plague as often as they will, signifies that they who would destroy these two essentials of the New Church will cast themselves into all kinds of evils and falsities, as often and so far as they do so. By "the earth" is signified the church (n. 285); and by "a plague" is signified evil and falsity (n. 456); hence by "smiting the earth with every plague," is signified to ruin the church by all kinds of evils and falsities. But this passage is to be understood in the same manner as the former, viz., that they who would smite these two essentials of the New Church with a plague, that is, destroy them, which is done by evil through falsities, will cast themselves into all kinds of evils and falsities; and as the natural sense is thus changed while it becomes spiritual, therefore also this expression, "as often as they will," is changed in like manner into this, as often and so far as they do this. The reason is, because in proportion as anyone destroys these two essentials, he so far destroys the truths of the Word; and so far as he destroys the truths of the Word, so far he casts himself into evils and falsities; for these two essentials are the truths of the Word, as may appear manifestly from The two Doctrines of the New Jerusalem; one concerning The Lord, and the other concerning The Doctrine of Life from the Precepts of the Decalogue. This passage, that "the witnesses had the power of smiting the earth with every plague as often as they will," is similar to many others in the Word, which attribute to Jehovah, that is, to the Lord, that "He smites men with plagues," and that this is His will, when yet it must be understood that He neither smites them, nor is it His will to do so, as in Zechariah:
This shall be the plague with which Jehovah shall smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem (Zech. 14:12, and following verses).
And in Jeremiah:
I have smitten thee with the plague of the enemy, with the chastisement of a tyrant, for the multitude of thine iniquity (Jer. 30:14);
likewise in many other places. See also above (n. 494).