241. 1. CONFIRMATIONS FROM THE WORD IN FAVOUR OF NATURE AGAINST GOD, AND IN FAVOUR OF HUMAN PRUDENCE AGAINST THE DIVINE PROVIDENCE. (Summarised in n. 236.)
1. The wisest of men, Adam, and his wife suffered themselves to be led astray by a serpent, and God did not avert this by His Divine Providence. This is because by Adam and his wife are not meant the first of all mankind that were created in this world, but the men of the Most Ancient Church; and their new creation or regeneration is thus described. Their new creation itself that is, their regeneration, is described in the first chapter [of Genesis] by the creation of heaven and earth; their wisdom and intelligence by the Garden of Eden; and the end of that Church by their eating of the tree of knowledge. For the Word in its inner content is spiritual, containing interior truths (arcana) of Divine Wisdom; and in order that it may contain these it is written wholly by correspondences and representatives. From this it is manifest that the men of that Church, who were in the beginning the wisest of men, and who in the end, from the pride of their own intelligence, became the worst, were not led astray by any serpent but by the love of self there denoted by the serpent's head, which the Seed of the woman, that is, the Lord should bruise.
 Who cannot see from reason that other things are meant than those that are there related in the form of history in the Letter? For who can comprehend that the creation of the world could have taken place as is there described? Therefore, the learned expend much labour in the explanation of that first chapter, and confess after all that they do not understand it. The same is true of what follows. It is recorded that in their garden or paradise were placed two trees, a tree of life and a tree of knowledge, the latter as a stumbling-block. Also, that from the mere eating of this tree they so far transgressed that not only they but the whole human race, their posterity, became subject to condemnation. Further, that a serpent was able to lead them astray; besides other things there related, as that the wife was created from a rib of the husband; that after the fall they acknowledged their nakedness and covered it with fig-leaves, and that coats of skin were given them to cover their bodies; and that cherubim with a flaming sword were placed to guard the way to the tree of life.
 All these things are representatives, describing the Establishment of the Most Ancient Church, its state, its change, and finally its destruction. The interior truths involved in all these things which are contained in the spiritual sense that is in every detail of the story, may be seen explained in the ARCANA CAELESTIA, on Genesis and Exodus, published in London, from which it may be evident that by the tree of life is there meant the Lord in respect to His Divine Providence, and by the tree of knowledge is meant man in respect to his own prudence.