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Spiritual Life and the Word of God Emanuel Swedenborg

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Spiritual Life and the Word of God

by Emanuel Swedenborg

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Part Fourth—THE DIVINE WORD

I. The Holiness of the Word

It was said of old that the Word is from God, Divinely inspired, and thus holy; and yet it has not been known heretofore where in the Word the Divine is. For the Word appears in the letter like a common writing in a foreign style, and a style not so sublime or so lucid as appears in the writings of the present ages. For this reason a man who worships nature more than God, or in place of God, and thus thinks from himself and what is his own (proprium), and not from the Lord out of heaven, can easily fall into error respecting the Word, and into contempt for it, saying in his heart when he reads it, What is this, or what is that? Is this Divine? Can God who has infinite wisdom speak in this manner? Where is its holiness, and from what source, unless from the religion whose ministers it serves? and other like things. But that it may be known that the Word is Divine, not only in every meaning but also in every expression, its internal sense, which is spiritual, and which is in its external sense, which is natural, as a soul in its body, has now been revealed. This sense can bear witness to the Divinity and consequent holiness of the Word; and can convince even the natural man that the Word is Divine if he is willing to be convinced. (A.E., n. 1065.)

In brief, the Word is Divine truth itself, which gives wisdom to angels and enlightens men. As Divine truth goes forth from the Lord, and as what goes forth is Himself out of Himself, the same as light and heat go forth from the sun and are the sun, that is, are of the sun out of it, and as the Word is Divine truth, it is therefore the Lord, as it is called in John (i. 1-3, 14). In as much as Divine truth, which is the Word, in its descent into the world from the Lord, has passed through the three heavens, it has become accommodated to each heaven, and lastly to men also in the world. This is why there are in the Word four senses, one outside of the other from the highest heaven down to the world, or one within the other from the world up to the highest heaven. These four senses are called the celestial, the spiritual, the natural from the celestial and spiritual, and the merely natural. This last is for the world, the next for the lowest heaven, the spiritual for the second heaven, and the celestial for the third. These four senses differ so greatly from one another that when one is exhibited beside the other no connection can be recognized; and yet they make one when one follows the other; for one follows from the other as an effect from a cause, or as what is posterior from what is prior; consequently as an effect represents its cause and corresponds to its cause, so the posterior sense corresponds to the prior; and thus it is that all four senses make one through correspondences.

From all this these truths follow. The outmost sense of the Word, which is the sense of the letter, and the fourth in order, contains in itself the three interior senses, which are for the three heavens. These three senses are unfolded and exhibited in the heavens when a man on the earth is reverently reading the Word. Therefore the sense of the letter of the Word is that from which and through which there is communication with the heavens, also from which and through which man has conjunction with the heavens. The sense of the letter of the Word is the basis of Divine truth in the heavens, and without such a basis Divine truth would be like a house without a foundation; and without such a basis the wisdom of the angels would be like a house in the air. It is the sense of the letter of the Word in which the power of Divine truth consists. It is the sense of the letter of the Word through which man is enlightened by the Lord, and through which he receives answers when he wishes to be enlightened. It is the sense of the letter of the Word by which everything of doctrine on the earth must be established. In the sense of the letter of the Word is Divine truth in its fullness. In the sense of the letter of the Word Divine truth is in its holiness. (A.E., n. 1066.)

That the Word is Divine truth itself, which gives wisdom to angels and enlightens men, can be perceived or seen only by a man enlightened. For to a worldly man, whose mind has not been raised above the sensual sphere, the Word in the sense of the letter appears so simple that scarcely anything could be more simple; and yet Divine truth, such as it is in the heavens and from which angels have their wisdom, lies concealed in it as in its sanctuary. For the Word in the letter is like the adytum [sanctum] in the midst of a temple covered with a veil, within which lie deposited mysteries of heavenly wisdom such as no ear hath heard. For in the Word and in every particular of it there is a spiritual sense, and in that sense a Divine celestial sense, which regarded in itself is Divine truth itself, which is in the heavens and which gives wisdom to angels and enlightenment to men.

The Divine truth that is in the heavens is light going forth from the Lord as a Sun, which is Divine love. And as the Divine truth that goes forth from the Lord is the light of heaven, so it is the Divine wisdom. It is this that illuminates both the minds and the eyes of angels, and it is this also that enlightens the minds of men, but not their eyes, and that enables them to understand truth and also to perceive good when man reads the Word from the Lord and not from self; for he is then a participator with angels, and has an inward perception like the spiritual perception of angels; and that spiritual perception which the angel-man has flows into his natural perception which is his own while in the world and enlightens it. Consequently the man who reads the Word from an affection for truth has enlightenment through heaven from the Lord. (A.E., n. 1067.) New Thought News is news we can use

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