Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 1408

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1408. The events described here and in what follows took place in history as they are recorded, yet the historical events as described are representative, and every word carries a spiritual meaning. This is so in all of the historical parts of the Word, not only in the Books of Moses but also in those of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings, all of which books contain nothing else than historical narratives. But although they are historical narratives in the sense of the letter, in the internal sense there are arcana of heaven lying hidden there. These arcana cannot possibly be seen as long as the mind keeps its eye fixed on the historical details, nor are they disclosed until the mind removes itself from the sense of the letter. The Word of the Lord is like a body that has a living soul within it. The things that belong to the soul are not apparent as long as the mind is fixed on those of the body, so much so that it scarcely believes it possesses a soul, even less that it will be alive after death. But as soon as the mind departs from bodily things, those belonging to the soul and to life show themselves; and in this lies the reason not only why bodily things must die before a person can be born anew or be regenerated, but also why the body must die so that he can enter heaven and behold heavenly things.

[2] The same applies to the Word of the Lord Its bodily parts are the things that constitute the sense of the letter, and when the mind is fixed on these the internal things are not seen at all. But once the bodily parts so to speak have died, the internal for the first time are brought to view. All the same, the things constituting the sense of the letter are like the things present with man in his body, namely the facts belonging to the memory which come in through the senses and which are general vessels containing interior or internal things. From this one may recognize that the vessels are one thing and the essential elements within the vessels another. The vessels are natural, and the essential elements within the vessels are spiritual and celestial. In the same way the historical narratives of the Word, as with each individual expression in the Word, are general, natural, indeed material vessels that have spiritual and celestial things within them. These things never come into sight except through the internal sense.

[3] This may become clear to anyone simply from the fact that many matters in the Word have been stated according to appearances, indeed according to the illusions of the senses, such as that the Lord is angry, punishes, curses, slays, and many other such statements, when in fact the internal sense contains the reverse, namely that the Lord is never angry or punishes, still less curses or slays. All the same, no harm at all is done to people who in simplicity of heart believe the Word as they find it in the letter so long as they are leading charitable lives, the reason being that the Word teaches nothing other than this - that everyone ought to live in charity with his neighbour and to love the Lord above all things. People doing this are in possession of the internal things, and thus with them the illusions acquired from the sense of the letter are easily dispersed.

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