786. Verse 17. And every pilot, and everyone employed upon ships, and sailors, and as many as work at sea, signifies those who are called the laity, as well they who are appointed in greater dignity as those that are in less, down to the common people, who are attached to that religious persuasion, and love and kiss it, or acknowledge and venerate it in heart. From the ninth to the sixteenth verse the clergy are treated of, who have been in dominion from that religious persuasion, and have exercised the Lord's Divine authority, and by it have made gain of the world. Those are now treated of, who are not in any order of the ministry, but still love and kiss that religious persuasion, and acknowledge and venerate it in heart, who are called the laity. By "every pilot" are meant the highest of them, who are emperors, kings, dukes, and princes. By "everyone employed upon ships" those are meant who are in various functions in a higher or a lower degree. By "sailors" are meant the lowest, who are called the common people. By "as many as work at sea," are meant all in general who are attached to that religious persuasion, and love and kiss it, or acknowledge and venerate it in heart.
 That all these are here meant, is manifest from the series of things in the spiritual sense; and from the signification of "being upon ships," and of "being employed upon ships," and of "sailors;" and from the signification of "them that work at sea." By the "pilots of ships," and "those employed upon them," and "sailors," no others can be meant but those who contribute the things which are above called merchandise, which are those things which they collect into their treasuries, as also possessions, and who receive benedictions and beatification in return, as merits, and other similar things which they desire for their souls. And when these are meant, it is manifest that by "every pilot" the highest of them are meant; by "everyone employed upon ships," all in offices subordinate to them; and by "sailors," the lowest. That by "ships" spiritual merchandise is meant, which are the knowledges of truth and good, may be seen above (n. 406); here natural merchandise; and they take back spiritual, as they think. The reason that by "as many as work at sea" are meant all, whoever they be, who love and kiss that religious persuasion, or acknowledge and venerate it in heart, is because that religious persuasion is signified by "the sea;" for by "the sea" the external of the church is signified, see above (n. 238, 290, 403-405, 470, 565b, 659, 661); and this religious persuasion is merely external. Similar things are signified by this in Isaiah:
Thus said Jehovah your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel, for your sake have I sent to Babel, and will cast down all her bars, whose cry is in the ships; thus said Jehovah, I who have given a way in the sea and a highway in the mighty waters (Isa. 43:14, 16).
"A cry in the ships" is spoken of, as here also, that "they stood afar off, and cried from the ships." And likewise in Ezekiel:
At the voice of the cry of thy captains shall the suburbs tremble, and all that hold the oar shall come down out of thy* ships, all the sailors and captains of the sea, and shall cry bitterly over thee (Ezek. 27:28-30).
But this is concerning the devastation of Tyre, by which the church as to the knowledges of truth and good is signified.
 But it is to be known, that no others are here meant but those who love and kiss that religious persuasion, and in heart acknowledge and venerate it. But they who are of the same religious persuasion, and acknowledge it indeed because they were born and brought up in it, and do not know anything of their devices and snares for arrogating to themselves Divine worship, and for possessing all the property of all in the world, and still do goods from a sincere heart, and likewise turn their eyes to the Lord, these come among the happy after death; for, being instructed there they receive truths, and reject the adoration of the pope, and the invocation of the saints, and acknowledge the Lord as the God of heaven and earth, and are taken up into heaven, and become angels. On which account also there are many heavenly societies of them in the spiritual world, over which are set the honorable, who have lived in the same manner. It has been given to see that some also were set over those societies, who were emperors, kings, dukes, and princes; who indeed acknowledged the pontiff as the highest official of the church, but not as the vicar of the Lord; and who acknowledged likewise some things from the papal bulls, but yet held the Word holy, and acted justly in their administration. Concerning these some things may be seen in the Continuation concerning the Last Judgment and concerning the Spiritual World (n. 58 and 60), related from experience.
* The original Latin has "thy," the Hebrew has "their."