Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 597

Previous Number Next Number Next Translation See Latin 

597. 'Noah' means a new Church, which must be called the Ancient Church to distinguish between the Most Ancient Church before the Flood and the Church that followed it. The states of those two Churches were entirely different. The state of the Most Ancient Church was one in which people had from the Lord a perception of good and of truth deriving from it, while that of the Ancient Church, or Noah, came to be one in which it had a conscience concerning good and truth. The nature of the difference between having perception and having conscience is what determined the difference in state between the Most Ancient Church and the Ancient.

[2] Perception is not the same as conscience. Celestial people have perception, spiritual people conscience. The Most Ancient Church was celestial whereas the Ancient was spiritual. The Most Ancient Church possessed immediate revelation through direct contact with spirits and angels, and also through visions and dreams from the Lord. These experiences enabled them to know in a general way what good and truth were, and once they knew them in this general way their general or so to speak primary matters of knowledge were confirmed by means of countless details acquired through perceptions. These countless details constituted the particular and the individual aspects of the general knowledge to which they had reference. In this manner general or so to speak primary knowledge was being corroborated day by day. If anything was not in keeping with general matters of knowledge they perceived that it was not; and if anything was in keeping they perceived that it was. Such is also the state of celestial angels.

[3] The general, so to speak primary, matters of knowledge of the Most Ancient Church were celestial and eternal truths: for example, that the Lord governs the whole universe; that the Lord is the source of all good and truth; that the Lord is the source of all life; that man's proprium was nothing but evil, and in itself something dead; in addition to other general truths such as these. And they received from the Lord a perception of countless considerations confirming and harmonizing with these truths. For those people love was the chief thing of faith, and through love they were allowed by the Lord to perceive anything that was a matter of faith. Consequently faith to them was love, as stated already. The Ancient Church however became entirely different. That difference will in the Lord's Divine mercy be discussed later on.

This page is part of the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

© 2000-2001 The Academy of the New Church