Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 1540

Previous Number Next Number Next Translation See Latin 


As has been stated, narratives in the Word that draw on true history began with the previous chapter. Down to that point, or rather down to Eber, they were made-up history. The continuation of the Abram story here means in the internal sense the Lord and in particular His life as it was at first before His External Man had been joined to His Internal to the point of their functioning as a unit, that is, before His external Man as well had become celestial and Divine. The historical details are what represent the Lord, while the actual words mean those things that are being represented. But because they are historical descriptions the mind of the reader. inevitably dwells upon them, especially nowadays when the majority, indeed almost everybody, does not believe in the existence of an internal sense at all, let alone within individual words. And perhaps they will still not acknowledge the existence of it even though it has been shown so clearly up to this point. There is the further reason that the internal sense seems to be so withdrawn from the sense of the letter that it is scarcely recognizable. Yet they can know of it merely from the consideration that historical records by themselves cannot ever constitute the Word, for there is no more of the Divine in them when they are separated from the internal sense than in any other historical narrative. It is the internal sense that makes it Divine. The fact that the internal sense is the Word itself is clear from many things that have been revealed, such as

Out of Egypt have I called My son. Matt 2:15.

besides many others like this. The Lord Himself also, after the Resurrection, taught the disciples what had been written concerning Himself in Moses and the Prophets, Luke 24:27, thus that nothing has been written in the Word which does not have regard to Him, to His kingdom, and to the Church. These are the spiritual and celestial things of the Word, but the sense of the letter consists for the most part of worldly, bodily, and earthly images which cannot possibly constitute the Word of the Lord. Nowadays people are such that they do not perceive anything except matters of this sort. They scarcely know what spiritual and celestial things are. It was different with the member of the Most Ancient Church or of the Ancient Church. If he were living today and reading the Word he would not pay any attention to the sense of the letter, which he would regard as nothing at all, but only to the internal sense. Members of those Churches are utterly amazed that anyone perceives the Word in any other way. All the books of the ancients therefore were written in such a fashion that they had a different import in the interior sense from what they had in the letter.

This page is part of the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

© 2000-2001 The Academy of the New Church