Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 1285

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1285. That 'the whole earth was one lip' means that people everywhere held to the same doctrine in its general aspects is clear from the meaning in the Word of 'a lip', dealt with in the next paragraph. This verse, in these few words, describes the state of the Ancient Church as it had been, that is to say, it held to the same general doctrine. The next verse however describes how it began to be falsified and adulterated, and after that down to verse 9 how it became so utterly perverted that no internal worship existed any longer. Immediately after that the subject is the second Ancient Church begun by Eber, and at last the third Church which was the start of the Jewish Church. For after the Flood there were three consecutive Churches.

[2] In regard to what has been said of the first Ancient Church - that though so wide-spread throughout the world, its lip was nevertheless one and its words one, that is, it shared one doctrine in its general aspects and in its particular details; but for all that, the forms of worship, internal as well as external, were everywhere divergent, as shown in the previous chapter where each nation that is mentioned meant a divergent form of doctrine and of ritual - the situation is as follows: Heaven consists of countless communities. They all vary, and yet all are one, for all are led as one by the Lord; see what has appeared already in 457, 551, 684, 685, 690. A parallel exists in man, in that although internally his body has so many parts, which, like his other organs and limbs, have so many inner parts, each functioning differently from any other, yet all of them, every single one, are nevertheless controlled as one by one soul. A parallel also exists with the human body, which has different ways of exerting its strength and of moving. Nevertheless all are controlled by one motion of the heart and one of the lungs, and together make one. The reason they are able to function as one in this way is that in heaven there is one single influx which is received by everyone according to his own disposition. This influx is an influx of affections from the Lord, from His mercy and life. And although there is one influx only, everything nevertheless conforms and follows as one. And this comes about through the mutual love shared by those in heaven.

[3] Such was the situation with the first Ancient Church that although there were so many forms of internal and external worship, at the general level as many as there were nations, at the specific level as many as there were families making up nations, and at the particular level as many as there were people in the Church, they all nevertheless had 'one lip' and 'their words were one'; that is, they all shared one doctrine in general and in particular. Doctrine is one when all possess mutual love, or charity. Mutual love or charity causes things, though varied, to be one, for it makes one out of varied things. If all, no matter how many - even ten thousand times ten thousand - are governed by charity or mutual love, they have but one end in view, namely the common good, the Lord's kingdom, and the Lord Himself. Variations in matters of doctrine and in forms of worship are like the variations that exist with the physical senses and with the inner parts of man's body, which, as stated, all contribute to the perfection of the whole. Indeed the Lord flows in and works by way of charity though in different ways according to the disposition of each individual. And in so doing He arranges every single person into a proper order, on earth as in heaven. In this way the Lord's will is done, as He Himself teaches, 'on earth as it is in heaven'.

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