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under the government of such a principle cannot possibly believe, inasmuch as spiritual and celestial things are incapable of being seen with the eyes, or conceived in the imagination. But the true order is, that man be wise with a wisdom derived from the Lord, that is, from His Word, in which case all things are in a right course, and then also he is enlightened in things rational and scientific; for man is never forbid to learn the sciences, inasmuch as they contribute to the use and delight of life; nor is he forbid, in case he be under the influence of faith, to think and speak as the learned do in the world, but then he must be guided by this principle, to believe the Word of the Lord, and to confirm spiritual and celestial truths by natural truths, in terms familiar to the learned world, as far as lies in his power; wherefore, his principle must be derived from the Lord, and not from himself; it being life according to the former derivation, but death according to the latter.
“ In old time, they were called serpents, who trusted to things of sense more than to things revealed; the case is worse at this day, inasmuch as there are persons now, who not only believe nothing unless they see and feel it, but also who confirm themselves in such unbelief by scientifics unknown to the ancients, and thus occasion in themselves a much greater blindness : in order that it may be known how they, who form conclusions respecting things celestial from things sensual, scientifical, and philosophical, blind themselves, so that they can afterwards see and hear nothing, and are not only deaf serpents, but also flying serpents, which are much more pernicious, and are likewise frequently spoken of in the Word ; let us take an instance from what they believe concerning spirit: the sensual man, or he who only believeth his senses, denieth the existence of spirit, because he doth not see it; it is nothing, saith he, because I am not sensible of it; what I see and touch, that I am persuaded hath existence. The scientific man, or he who formeth his conclusions from the sciences, saith within himself, What is spirit but a casual vapour or heat, or some other term appertaining to science, which vanisheth, as soon as such vapour or heat are extinguished ? have not other animals their bodies, senses, and something analogous to reason, yet we pronounce them mortal, and the spirit of man immortal ? thus he reasoneth himself into a denial of the existence of spirit. In like manner, philosophical men, who wish to have more
discernment than others, speak of spirit in terms, which they themselves are unacquainted with, as is evident from their disputing about them, contending that not a single expression is applicable to spirit, which is at all grounded in any thing material, organical, or extended; thus they remove it from their ideas in such a manner, that it entirely vanisheth in respect to them, and becometh a mere nothing. Nevertheless the wiser sort of these philosophers assert spirit to be a thinking principle, but in their reasonings about this thinking principle, in consequence of separating it from the idea of substantiality, they at length conclude that it must needs vanish when the body dies. Thus all, who ground their reasonings in mere sensual, scientific, and philosophical principles, deny the existence of spirit, and in so doing they become altogether incredulous as to whatever is asserted in relation to spirit and spiritual things. Not so the simple in heart; if they are questioned concerning the existence of spirit, they declare their unfeigned belief therein, because the Lord hath said that they should continue to live after death; thus they do not extinguish their rational (principle,] but cause it to live by the Word of the Lord.
“ To explore the mysteries of faith by scientifics is as impossible as for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, or as for a rib-bone to enter into and direct the most pure fibrils which compose the breast and heart; so crass and much more crass is the sensual and scientific (principle] in respect to the spiritual and celestial : He who desires to investigate only the hidden things of nature, which are innumerable, with difficulty discovers a single. one, and in the course of his investigation is liable to fall into many errors, as experience teacheth ; and how much more likely is this to be the case, in investigating the hidden things of spiritual and celestial life, where myriads of mysteries exist for one that is to be found in invisible nature ! For the sake of illus. trating this point let us take the following instance; man of himself cannot do otherwise than commit evil, and turn himself away from the Lord ; yet it is not man who doeth this, but the evil spirits who are attendant on him ; nor do the evil spirits do it, but the evil itself which they have appropriated to themselves; nevertheless man doeth evil, and turneth himself away from the Lord, and is in fault; and yet he doth not live but from the Lord. So on the other hand, man of limself cannot possibly do good,
and turn himself to the Lord, but by the angels ; nor can the angels do this, but the Lord Alone; and yet man may as of himself do good, and turn himself to the Lord; That this is really the case, neither the senses, nor science, nor philosophy can conceive, or apprehend, and therefore if they are consulted as to the truth of such propositions, they reject and deny them, when ne. vertheless in themselves they are most true; and thus it is also in all other cases respecting things spiritual and celestial. Hence it is evident, that they who consult the things of sense and sci. ence concerning matters of faith, not only precipitate themselves into doubt, but also into denial, that is, into darkness, and in consequence of such darkness, into every sort of lust and concupiscence; for whilst they believe what is false, they also do what is false ; and whilst they believe that no such thing existeth as what is spiritual and celestial, they believe at the same time that nothing existeth but what is corporeal and worldly; thus they come to love whatever relateth to themselves and the world, and consequently immerse themselves in all the lusts and evils that originate in false opinions."
Arcana Cælestia, 127, 128, 129, 196, 233.
ON THE APPEARANCES OF TRUTH.
And it repented Jehovah that He made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart. That he repented, signifies mercy: That he grieved at the heart, has a like signification : To repent, respecteth wisdom ; to grieve at the heart respecteth love.
6 That by Jehovah's repenting that he made man upon the earth is signified mercy, and that his grieving at heart has a like signification, is evident from this circumstance, that Jehovah never repents, because He foresees all and every thing from eternity; and when he made man, that is, created him anew, and perfected him till he became celestial, he also foresaw, that in process of time he would be reduced to the state here described, and therefore he could not repent: This appears very plain from what Samuel said, “ The invincible One of Israel doth not lie, nor repent, for He is not a man that he should repent,” 1 Sam. xv. 29. And in Moses, “ God is not a man that He should lie, or the son of man that he should repent ; hath He said, and shall He not do; or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good ?” Numb. xxiii. 19. But to repent signifies to be merciful: The mercy of Jehovah or of the Lord, implies all and every thing done by the Lord towards mankind, who are in such a state, that the Lord pitieth them, and each one according to his state ; thus He pitieth the state of him whom He permitteth to be punished, and him also to whom he granteth to enjoy good : It is of mercy to be punished, because mercy turneth all the evil of punishment into good ; and it is of mercy to grant the enjoyment of good, because no one meriteth any thing that is good ; for all mankind are evil, and of themselves are every one of them rushing headlong into hell, wherefore it is a mercy that they are delivered thence; nor is it any thing but mercy, inasmuch as the Lord hath no need of any man: Mercy hath it's name from this circumstance of it's delivering man from miseries and from hell, thus it is called mercy in respect to mankind, as being in such a state of misery, and is the effect of love towards all, because they are in such a state.
“ But repentance and grief of heart are predicated of the Lord, inasmuch as such affections appear to be in all human mercy, wherefore what is said here of the Lord's repenting and grieving, is spoken according to appearance, as is the case in various other
passages in the Word : What the mercy of the Lord is, none can know, because it infinitely transcendeth the understanding of man; but what the mercy of man is, man knoweth, viz. that it is to repent and grieve ; and unless man was to form his ideas of mercy and other affections, according to his own apprehension of their qualities, it would be impossible for him to have any conception at all about them, and of consequence he could never receive instruction; and this is the reason why human properties are often predicated concerning the attributes of Jehovah, or the Lord, as that Jehovah or the Lord punisheth, leadeth into temptation, destroyeth, is angry, when yet the truth is, that He never punisheth any one, never leadeth any into temptation, never destroyeth any, and is never angry; wherefore since such things are predicated of the Lord, it follows, that repentance also and grief must be predicated of Him, for the predication of the one is a consequence of the predication of the other, as plainly appears from these passages in the Word, “ Mine anger shall be accomplished, I will cause My wrath to rest, and it shall repent Me,” v. 13. Where because anger and wrath are predicated of Jehovah, repentance is also predicated : So in Zechariah, “ When I thought to do evil, when your fathers provoked Me to wrath, saith Jehovah of Hosts, and I repented not, so again in these days will I think to do good to Jerusalem, and to the house of Judah," viii. 14, 15. Where it is said that Jehovah thought to do evil, when, yet He never thinketh to do evil to any one, but to do good to all and every one. So in Moses, when he besought the faces of Jehovah, “ Return from the wrath of Thine anger and repent of this evil against Thy people; and Jehovah repented of the evil which He spake to do unto His people,” Exod. xxii. 12. 14. In this
passage also wrath of anger is attributed to Jehovah, and consequently repentance: So the king of Niniveh saith in Jonah, “ Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from the wrath of his anger, that we perish not p” Where in like manner repentance is predicated because anger is predicated. So in Hosea, “ Mine heart is turned upon me, My repentings are kindled at the same time, I will not execute the wrath of mine anger,” xi. 8, 9. Where in like manner it is said of the heart, that repentings were kindled, as it is here said that He grieved at heart. Repentings evidently signify much mercy :: To the same purport in Joel, “ 'Turn ye to Jehovah your God, for He is gracious and merciful, long suffering, and abundant in mer. cy, and repenteth Him of the evil,” ii. 13. Where also it is very evident, that to repent signifies mercy. So in Jeremiah, “ If so be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent Me of the evil,” xvi. 3. Where to repent signifies to be merciful. Again in the same prophet, “ If that nation turn from their evil, I will repent of the evil,” xviii. 8. Where also to repent signifies to be merciful, in case they would turn themselves; for it is man who turneth away from himself the mercy of the Lord, and not the Lord who turneth himself away from man. “ From these and several other passages of the Word it
may. be manifest, that what is said therein is spoken according to appearances in man, wherefore whosoever is disposed to confirm false principles by appearances, according to which the Word is written, may do so in innumerable instances : But there is a difference between confirming false principles by passages from the