Apocalypse Explained (Tansley) n. 1191

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1191. Because by thy sorcery (veneficium) have all the nations been seduced.- That this signifies that by wicked arts and persuasions they compelled all the simple good of that church to believe and do those things that result in domination and opulence is evident from the signification of sorcery, which denotes arts and persuasions, of which we shall speak presently; from the signification of nations, as denoting those who are in good, thus the simple good, concerning which see above (n. 175, 331, 625, 1077; and from the signification of being seduced, as denoting to be led by means of those arts and persuasions into believing and doing those things which would bring them domination and opulence. Sorcery [veneficium] signifies, in the Word, nearly the same as enchantment, and enchantment signifies persuasion of such a kind that a man does not at all perceive but that the thing is so. Such a kind of persuasion exists with certain spirits so that they, as it were, close up the understanding of another, and suffocate the faculty of perceiving. And because upright men in the Babylonish nation are compelled and persuaded to believe and to do what the monks say, therefore it is here said that they were seduced by their sorcery. The enchantments mentioned in Isaiah (chap. xlvii. 9, 12), where Babylon also is treated of, have a similar signification. So in David (Psalm lviii. 4, 5). Enchantment is also mentioned among the arts approximating to magic, which were prohibited the sons of Israel (Deut. xviii. 10, 11).

[2] Continuation.- The eminence and opulence of the angels of a heaven shall also be described. There are in the societies of heaven higher and lower rulers [preefecti], all ordered and subordinated by the Lord, according to their wisdom and intelligence. The highest of these, who excels the rest in wisdom, dwells in the midst, in a palace so magnificent that nothing in all the world can be compared to it. Its architectural features are so amazing that I can say, of a truth, that they cannot be described in natural language, even as to a hundredth part, for Art itself is there in its very art.

In the interior of the palace are apartments and chambers, all the furniture and ornaments of which are brilliant with gold and various precious stones, and in such forms as cannot be imitated, either in painting or sculpture, by any artist in the world. What again is marvellous is that every individual thing, even to objects the most minute, is adapted for use. Every one who enters sees the use for which they are designed, and also perceives it as if from the out-flowing of the uses through their own forms. But no wise person on entering keeps his eye long fixed upon the forms, but in his mind he contemplates the uses, because these impart delight to his wisdom. Surrounding the palace are porticos, paradisiacal gardens, and smaller palaces, each being in itself the abode of heavenly delightfulness in the forms of its own beauty. In addition to these and other magnificent objects, there are attendant guards, each of them clad in shining garments. The subordinate rulers enjoy similar magnificence and splendour, according to the degrees of their wisdom, and their wisdom again is according to the degrees of the love of uses. Not only is this the case with those in authority, but also with the inhabitants, all of whom love uses, and perform them by means of various occupations.

[3] There are, however, but few things that it is possible to describe, while those which surpass description are innumerable. The latter being spiritual in their origin, do not fall within the ideas of the natural man, and therefore are not capable of being expressed in words, except so far as this, that wisdom builds herself a habitation, making it suitable for herself, and that then everything which lies inmostly concealed in any knowledge (scientia) or in any art comes to her assistance and does her bidding. These things are now stated in order that it may be known that all things in the heavens also refer to eminence and opulence, but that eminence there is the eminence of wisdom, and opulence the opulence of knowledge (scientia); and that such are the things to which man is led of the Lord by means of His Divine Providence.

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