Apocalypse Explained (Tansley) n. 1146

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1146. And every vessel of ivory, and every vessel of precious wood.- That this signifies rational truths and goods, profaned, is evident from the signification of vessel, which denotes the Scientific, of which we shall speak presently; from the signification of ivory, which denotes rational truth, of which also we shall speak presently; and from the signification of precious wood, which denotes excellent good, thus rational good, for this good is excellent, because it is the best good of the natural man. That wood signifies good may be seen above (n. 1145). The reason why a vessel denotes the Scientific (scientificum) is, because all truth in the natural man is called scientific (scientificum). And the reason why this is signified by a vessel is, because the Scientific of the natural man is the containant of rational and spiritual truths; for these, when thought and perceived, are deposited in the memory, and are called scientifics (scientifica). This is the reason why vessels, in the Word, signify knowledges, which, as far as they belong to and are deposited in the memory of the natural man, are scientifics.

[2] The reason why ivory signifies rational truth, is, that the elephant signifies the Natural in general, therefore ivory - which is the elephant's tusk, and by means of which he exercises his power - both because it is white and has power of resistance, signifies rational truth, which is the most excellent truth of the natural man; this truth is also signified by ivory and also by ebony in Ezekiel:

"Of the oaks of Bashan they made thy oars; thy rafter they made of ivory. Many islands were the merchandise of thine hand, horns of ivory and ebony they brought for thy present" (xxvii. 6, 15).

This is said of Tyre, which signifies the knowledges of truth, by which man has intelligence. These are described by a ship, whose oars were of oak, and the planks of ivory. Oars denote those things of the understanding by which a man speaks, and which belong to the sensual man; and a plank denotes that part of the understanding by which he is led, which is the Rational; this also is signified there by the ebony, which the islands bring, for islands signify those in the church who are natural, but still rational.

[3] In Amos:

"Who lie upon beds of ivory, and stretch themselves upon their couches" (vi. 4).

Reasoning from falsities is here described. Beds of ivory denote doctrines, as it were, from rational truths, while to reason in favour of these from falsities is meant by stretching themselves upon their couches.

Again in the same:

"I will smite the winter house with the summer house, that the houses of ivory may perish, that the great houses may cease" (iii. 15).

Houses signify those things that belong to the human mind, here those that belong to the natural mind separated from the spiritual mind. By the winter house and the summer house are signified those things of the natural man that are called sensual, while by the house of ivory and the great house are signified those things of the natural man that are called rational, those relating to truth being signified by the house of ivory, and those relating to good by the great house. Because a house signifies a man in regard to those things which belong to his mind, therefore houses of ivory used formerly to be built, as is evident from what is said of Ahab in the first book of Kings (xxii. 39), by which man as to his rational mind was signified. From these things the signification of these words in David is evident:

"Out of the ivory palaces they have made thee glad" (Psalm xlv. 8).

This is said of the Lord; the palaces of ivory denote truths from the rational man, thus rational truths. But the vessels of ivory and of every precious wood here in the Apocalypse signify rational truths and goods, profaned, because they are spoken of in connection with Babylon, by which are signified the profanations of all things appertaining to truth and good.

[4] Continuation concerning the Athanasian Creed.- That man is only a recipient of good and truth from the Lord, and of evil and falsity from hell, must be illustrated by comparisons, confirmed by the laws of order and influx, and, lastly, substantiated by experience. It is illustrated by the following comparisons. The sensories of the body are merely recipient and percipient as if from themselves. The sensory of sight, which is the eye, sees objects 6ut of itself, as it were in close contact with them, although it is the rays of light that, with the wings of ether, convey their forms and colours to the eye; these forms, being perceived by the internal sight, which is called the understanding, are examined in the eye and thus distinguished and known according to their quality. Similarly the sensory of hearing perceives sounds-whether they are words or tones of music-from the place whence they proceed, as if it were there, although the sounds enter from without, and are perceived in the ear by the understanding within. The sensory of smell, also, perceives from within what enters from without, sometimes from a great distance. The sensory of taste also is excited by the food, which externally moves over the tongue. The sensory of touch has no sensation unless it is touched. These five sensories of the body, by virtue of an influx from within, are sensible of the things which enter by influx from without; the influx from within is from the spiritual world, and the influx from without is from the natural world.

[5] With these facts, the laws inscribed on the nature of all things are in agreement, and these laws are as follows:

(1.) That nothing exists, subsists, is acted upon and moved, by itself, but by something else; whence it follows, that every thing exists, subsists, is acted upon and moved, from the First, who is not from another, but is in Himself the living force, which is life.

(2.) That nothing can be acted upon and moved, unless it be intermediate between two forces, one of which acts and the other re-acts, thus, unless one acts on the one part, and one on the other; and further, unless one acts from within, and the other from without.

(3.) And since these two forces, while they are at rest, are in equilibrium, it follows, that nothing can be acted upon or moved, unless it is in equilibrium, and that when it is acted upon, it is not in equilibrium; and further, that every thing acted upon or moved seeks to return to equilibrium.

(4.) That all activities are changes of state and variations of form, and that the latter are the result of the former.

By state in man we mean his love, and by changes of state the affections of love; by form in man we mean his intelligence, and by variations of form his thoughts; the latter also are from the former.

This page is part of the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

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