Doc. of Sacred Scripture (Dick) n. 51

Previous Number Next Number Next Translation See Latin 

51. 1. WITHOUT DOCTRINE, THE WORD IS UNINTELLIGIBLE. This is because the Word in the sense of the Letter consists of pure correspondences, so designed that spiritual and celestial things may be simultaneously in it, and that every word of it may contain them and serve as their basis. For this reason in some places in the sense of the Letter truths are not unveiled but veiled, and being so, they are called appearances of truth. There are many truths accommodated to the perception of simple people, whose thoughts do not rise above what they see with their eyes. There are, moreover, some things which appear like contradictions, whereas there is not a single contradiction in the Word, when it is regarded in its own light. In some parts of the Prophets also there are names of places and persons recorded from which no meaning can be gathered, as in the passages quoted above in No. 15. Since then this is the nature of the Word in the sense of the Letter, it may be evident that without doctrine it cannot be understood. [2] Some examples may make this clear. It is said. That Jehovah repents. Exod. xxxii 12, 14; Jonah iii 9, iv 2;

It is also said

That Jehovah does not repent. Num. xxiii 19; 1 Sam. xv 29.

These passages cannot be reconciled without doctrine. It is said

That Jehovah visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation. Num. xiv 18;

and it is said

That a father shall not die for a son, neither a son for a father, but every one shall die in his own sin. Deut. xxiv 16.

In the light of doctrine these passages are not contradictory, but are in perfect agreement.

[3] Jesus says:

Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; for everyone that asketh shall receive, and he that seeketh shall find, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. Matt. vii 7, 8; xxi 21, 22.

Without doctrine it might be believed that everyone will receive what he asks; but from doctrine it is believed that what is given is whatever a man asks not of himself but from the Lord; for this also the Lord teaches:

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. John xv 7.

[4] The Lord says:

Blessed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of God. Luke vi 20.

Without doctrine it might be supposed that heaven is for the poor, and not for the rich; but doctrine teaches that the poor in spirit are meant, for the Lord says:

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matt. v 3.

[5] The Lord says:

Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged. Matt. vii 1, 2; Luke vi 37.

Without doctrine this might be quoted to prove that it ought not to be said of evil that it is evil, thus that judgment must not be passed that a wicked man is wicked; whereas according to doctrine one may pass judgment, provided it is just, for the Lord says:

Judge righteous judgment. John vii 24.

[6] Jesus says:

Be not ye called teacher (A.V. Rabbi): for one is your teacher (A.V. Master), even Christ. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. Matt. xxiii 8, 9, 10.

Without doctrine it might appear that we may not call anyone teacher, father, or master; but from doctrine it is known that we may do so in the natural sense, but not in the spiritual.

[7] Jesus said to the disciples:

When the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. Matt. xix 28.

From these words it might be concluded that the disciples were also to judge, whereas they cannot judge anyone. Doctrine therefore will explain this mystery (arcanum) by teaching that the Lord alone, who is omniscient and who knows the hearts of all, will judge and can judge; and that by His twelve disciples is meant the Church as to all the truths and goods which it possesses from the Lord by means of the Word; therefore doctrine concludes that it is these which will judge everyone, according to the Lord's words in John iii 17, 18, xii 47- 48.

[8] He who reads the Word without doctrine does not know how those things are consistent which are said in the Prophets concerning the Jewish nation and concerning Jerusalem. It is said that the Church is to remain with that nation, with its seat in that city, for ever; as in the following passages;

Jehovah will visit His flock, the house of Judah, and shall make them as His goodly horse in the battle. Out of Him came forth the corner [stone], out of Him the nail, and out of Him the battle-bow. Zech. x 3, 4, 6, 7. Lo, I come, that I may dwell in the midst of thee. And Jehovah shall inherit Judah ... and shall choose Jerusalem again. Zech. ii 10, 12. It shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk ... But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation. Joel iii 18, 20. Behold, the days come ... that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man. That I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. . . And this shall be the covenant ... I will put my law in their inward parts and write it in their heart; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. Jer. xxxi 27, 31, 33. In that day ... ten men, out of all the languages of the nations, shall take hold of the skirt of a man that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you; for we have heard that God is with you. Zech. viii 23. So also elsewhere, as in Isaiah xliv 24, 26; xlix 22, 23; lxv 9; lxvi 20, 22; Jeremiah iii 18; xxiii 5; 1, 19, 20; Nahum i 15; Malachi iii 4.

These passages treat of the Coming of the Lord, and what would then come to pass.

[9] But the contrary is said in many other places of which this passage only will be quoted:

I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith. I said, I would scatter them into the uttermost corners, I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men:

For they are a nation void of counsel, neither is there any understanding in them ... Their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter:

Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps. Is not this laid up in store with me, sealed up among my treasures? To me belongeth vengeance and recompence. Deut. xxxii 20-5.

Such are the things said of that nation; and similar things are said elsewhere; as in Isa. iii 1, 2, 8; v 3, 6; Deut. ix 5, 6; Matt. xii 39.; xxiii 27, 28; John viii 44; and in Jeremiah and Ezekiel throughout.

These passages however, which seem to be contradictory, will appear to be in perfect accord from doctrine. For doctrine teaches that by Israel and by Judah in the Word are not meant Israel and Judah but the Church in two senses; in one sense, that it is devastated, and in another, that it is to be established by the Lord. There are other passages in the Word similar to these, and from them it is clearly manifest that the Word without doctrine is unintelligible.

This page is part of the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

© 2000-2001 The Academy of the New Church