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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.
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.,
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.)
Links to Additional Media for Spiritual Life and the Word of God by Emanuel Swedenborg such as audio and ebooks are located at the bottom of this web page.