Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 4311

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4311. In the internal historical sense 'for I have seen God face to face, and my soul is delivered' means His presence through representations. This is clear from the meaning of 'seeing God face to face' when used in reference to the state which Jacob's descendants were passing through, as the Lord's presence through representations, for if anyone 'sees God face to face' in an external form, and with his physical sight, it is not God Himself that he sees present then, 4299. The fact that He was not present with those people then, as He is with those who are regenerate and who for that reason are governed by spiritual love and by faith, is evident from what has been stated about that nation in 4281, 4288, 4290, 4293, namely about their worship being external and not at the same time internal; or what amounts to the same, about their being governed by bodily and worldly love and not by spiritual and celestial. With such people the Lord cannot possibly be present except through representations.

[2] What presence through representations is must be discussed briefly. Anyone who is governed by bodily and worldly love, and not at the same time by spiritual or by celestial love, does not have any but evil spirits with him, even when external holiness exists with him. Good spirits cannot in any way be present with such a person, for they perceive in an instant the kind of love which governs a person. There is a sphere emanating from the interior parts of him which the spirits perceive as plainly as man by his sense of smell perceives offensive and foul odours floating around him in the air. This is what the state of good and truth, or love and faith, was like with that nation dealt with here. But in order that they might nevertheless play the part of a representative of the Church, the Lord made provision in a miraculous way so that when an external holiness existed with them, and at the same time they were surrounded by evil spirits, that holiness existing with them might nevertheless be raised up to heaven. But this was effected through good spirits and angels who were not within them but outside them, for within them there was nothing but an empty void or else uncleanness. For this reason there was no communication with any person himself, only with the holiness which existed with them when they observed ordinances and commandments, all of which were representative of the spiritual and celestial things of the Lord's kingdom. This is what is meant by the Lord's presence with that nation through representations. But He is present in a different way with those within the Church in whom spiritual love and therefore faith are present. With these people good spirits and angels are present not only within external worship but also at the same time within internal, and therefore in their case the communication of heaven is with those persons themselves. Indeed the Lord is flowing in by way of heaven through their internals into their externals. For these latter people the holiness of worship is of value to them in the next life, but of no value to the former.

[3] It is similar with priests and ministers who preach about holy things and yet live wickedly and believe in what is wicked. With them no good spirits are present, only evil ones, even when they officiate at external acts of worship in a manner which is outwardly holy. For it is self-love and love of the world - that is, love directed towards the attainment of prominent positions and love directed towards the acquisition of gain and so of reputation - which fires them and is the reason for their display of holiness. Sometimes such ambitions are so great that those priests and ministers do not see any false presence in themselves, nor at the same time do they believe that such presence can even exist. Yet in fact they are in the midst of evil spirits whose state is at that time the same as theirs and who serve as their aspiration and inspiration. The presence of evil spirits in that kind of state - when priests or ministers officiate at external acts of worship and when a brake is put on their self-love and love of the world - I have been allowed to know from a considerable amount of experience, which will in the Lord's Divine mercy be described further on at the ends of chapters. Those priests and ministers do not themselves have any communication with heaven, but those who hear and receive the words coming from their lips do so if internal reverence and holiness exists with them. For it does not matter at all who declares what is good and true, provided their lives are not openly wicked, because that would give offence.

[4] This was the situation with the nation descended from Jacob; that is to say, they were surrounded by evil spirits and yet the Lord was present with them through representations, as becomes clear from many places in the Word. In their hearts they did anything but worship Jehovah, for as soon as miracles ceased they instantly turned to other gods and became idolaters, which was a sure sign that in their hearts they worshipped other gods and made mere lip confession to Jehovah; and they made this to Him solely for the reason that they might be the greatest and be pre-eminent over all the nations round about them. The fact that this nation - Aaron included - in their hearts worshipped an Egyptian idol and made mere lip confession to Jehovah because of His miracles, is plainly evident from the golden calf which Aaron made for them, one month after they had seen such great miracles on Mount Sinai, in addition to those they had seen previously in Egypt - see Exod. 32. That Aaron too was like this is explicitly stated in verses 2-5 of that same chapter, and especially in verse 35. The same traits in that nation are in addition evident from marry other places in Moses, in the Book of Judges, in the Books of Samuel, and in the Books of the Kings.

[5] It is also evident that their worship was solely external and not at all internal from the fact that they were forbidden to go near Mount Sinai when the Law was being proclaimed, and that if they touched the mountain they would certainly die, Exod 19:11-13; 20:19. The reason they were forbidden to do so was that internally they were unclean. It is also stated in Moses that Jehovah dwelt with them in the midst of their uncleannesses, Lev 16:16. What that nation was like is also clear from the Song of Moses, Deut 32:15-43, and from many places in the Prophets. From this it can be recognized that no Church resided with that nation but merely a representative of the Church, and that the Lord was present with it merely through representations.

[6] See also what has been presented already regarding these people,

With the descendants of Jacob a representative of the Church existed but not a Church, 4281, 4288.

A representative of the Church was not established among them until they had been vastated altogether as regards internal holiness, otherwise they would have profaned holy things, 3398, 4289.

When they adhered to ordinances they were able to play a representative role, but not when they deviated from them, 3881 (end).

Therefore they were kept strictly to religious observances and were coerced by external means, 3147, 4281.

So that they could play the part of a representative of the Church their worship became external worship devoid of internal 4281.

Therefore also interior things of the Church; were not disclosed to them, 301- 303, 2520, 3398, 3479, 3769.

They were of such a nature that they were better able than others to have external holiness devoid of internal, 4293.

This is why they have been preserved even to the present day. 3479. Their external holiness made no difference to their souls, 3479.

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