Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 1409

Previous Number Next Number Next Translation See Latin 

1409. That the historical events as described are representative, but every word carries a spiritual meaning, becomes clear from what has been stated and shown already about representatives and about things that carry a spiritual meaning in 665, 920, 1361. Since representatives begin at this point, let a further brief explanation be given. The Most Ancient Church, which was celestial, regarded all earthly and worldly things, and also bodily things, which were in any way the objects of their senses, as nothing else than things that were dead. But because every single thing in the world presents some idea of the Lord's kingdom and therefore of celestial and spiritual things, they did not think about those objects whenever they saw them or became aware of them with some sensory power, but about celestial and spiritual things. And indeed they did not think from those worldly objects but by means of them. In this way things with them that were dead became living.

[2] Those things that carried a spiritual meaning were gathered from the lips of those people by their descendants, and these turned them into doctrinal teachings which constituted the Word of the Ancient Church after the Flood. These doctrinal teachings in the Ancient Church were things that carried a spiritual meaning, for through them they came to know internal things, and from them thought about spiritual and celestial things. But after this knowledge began to perish, so that they ceased to know that such things were meant and they started to regard those earthly and worldly things as holy and to worship them without any thought as to their spiritual meaning, those same things at that point became representative. From this arose the representative Church which began in Abram and was subsequently established among the descendants of Jacob. From this it may be known that representatives had their origin in the things in the Ancient Church which carried a spiritual meaning, and that these had their origin in the heavenly ideas present in the Most Ancient Church.

[3] The nature of representatives becomes clear from the historical parts of the Word, where all the acts of those forefathers, that is to say, the acts of Abram, Isaac, and Jacob, and later on of Moses, the judges, and the kings of Judah and Israel, are nothing other than representatives. As has been stated, 'Abram' in the Word represents the Lord, and because he represents the Lord, he also represents the celestial man. 'Isaac' too represents the Lord, and from that the spiritual man, while 'Jacob' likewise represents the Lord, and from that the natural man corresponding to the spiritual.

[4] But the nature of representatives is such that no attention at all is paid to the character of the representative person, only to the thing which he represents For all the kings of Judah and Israel, no matter what kind of men they were, represented the Lord's Royalty, and all the priests, no matter what kind of men these were, His Priesthood. Thus bad men as well as good were able to represent the Lord, and the celestial and spiritual things of His kingdom, for, as stated and shown already, representatives were entirely separate from the person involved. So then all the historical narratives of the Word are representative, and as this is so it follows that all the words of the Word carry a spiritual meaning, that is, they mean something different in the internal sense from what they do in the sense of the letter.

This page is part of the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

© 2000-2001 The Academy of the New Church