Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 5508

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5508. 'And they pointed out to him all that was happening to them means reflection by the good of that truth on what was provided up to then. This is clear from the meaning of 'pointing out' as thought and reflection, dealt with in 2861, for what is pointed out to someone is thought based on reflection; and from the meaning of 'all that was happening to them' as what was providential or provided, dealt with below. The reason why it is the good of truth that reflects is that the one to whom 'they pointed out' was Jacob their father, who represents the good of truth, 5506. The reflection did not originate in the truths represented by 'the sons of Jacob', as the sense of the letter implies, for the reason that all reflection and thought based on it which take place in what is lower or more external begin in what is higher or more internal, though they appear to begin in what is lower or more external. And because the good of truth, which 'Jacob' represents, is more internal, reflection by the good of truth is therefore meant.

[2] The reason 'what is happening' means what is providential or has been provided is that every happening or contingency which is otherwise described as fortuitous and attributed to chance or luck is something providential. Divine Providence does its work out of sight and in ways beyond comprehension, for the reason that a person may be able in freedom to attribute that work either to providence or else to chance. For if providence performed its acts in seen and comprehensible ways the dangerous condition would then exist in which a person would first believe, because of what he has seen and comprehended, that those acts were providential, but after that would move away into a contrary belief. In that case truth and falsity would then be joined together in his interior man and the truth would be rendered profane - a condition that holds eternal damnation within it. The retention therefore of a person such as this in a state of disbelief is preferable to his having faith at one point and then departing from it.

[3] This condition is meant in Isaiah,

Say to this people, Hearing, hear- but do not understand; and seeing, see - but do not comprehend. Make the heart of this people fat and their ears heavy, and plaster over their eyes, lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and their heart understands, and they turn again and are healed. Isa 6:9, 10; John 12:40.

This also explains why miracles do not take place at the present day. For as with everything else that is seen and comprehensible, miracles would compel a person to believe; and anything that compels takes freedom away. But the whole of a person's reformation and regeneration takes place while he is in freedom; nothing implanted in him if he is not in freedom remains fixed in him. Things are implanted in freedom if an affection for goodness and truth are present in the person, 1937,1947, 2744, 2870-2893, 3145, 3146, 3158, 4401.

[4] The reason why great miracles occurred among the descendants of Jacob was that they were compelled by those miracles to fulfill in their outward form the religious laws they were given; for no more than this was required of those limited to representatives of the Church. With those people things of an external nature were separated from internal ones, which was why they could not undergo any interior reformation. They completely rejected things of an internal nature and were therefore unable to render truths profane, 3398, 3399, 3479, 4680. Such people could be subjected to compulsion without any danger of their profaning what was holy.

[5] People of today ought to believe what they do not see, as is also clear from the Lord's words to Thomas, in John,

Because you have seen Me, Thomas, you have believed; blessed are those who do not see and yet believe. John 20:29.

The truth that contingencies which are otherwise attributed to chance or luck are due to Divine Providence is indeed accepted by the Church; yet there is no real belief in it. Who does not say that God has saved him, who does not give thanks to God when, seemingly by good fortune, he gets out of some great danger? Also, when he is promoted to important positions or comes into wealth, does he not also call this a blessing received from God? Thus the member of the Church accepts that all contingencies are attributable to providence, even though he does not really believe this. But more on these matters will in the Lord's Divine mercy be presented elsewhere.

This page is part of the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

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