Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 1072

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1072. 'He was drunk' means that he consequently sank into errors. This is clear from the meaning of 'a drunken man' in the Word. Those people are called drunk who do not believe anything except that of which they have a mental grasp, and who for that reason probe into mysteries of faith. And because they probe into them by means of knowledge, either factual or philosophical, acquired through the senses, man being what he is inevitably sinks as a consequence into errors. Man's thought is altogether earthly, bodily, and material because it is born of things that are earthly, bodily, and material which cling to it all the time and which the ideas comprising his thought are based on and encompassed by. Consequently to think and reason about Divine matters from such things is to run into errors and perversities, and from that position it is as impossible to acquire faith as it is 'for a camel to go through the eye of a needle'. The error and insanity that result are in the Word called 'drunkenness'. What is more, souls or spirits in the next life who reason about and against the truths of faith become like drunken men and behave as these do. These people will in the Lord's Divine mercy be described later on.

[2] Spirits are clearly distinguished from one another as to whether they possess, or do not possess, faith that inheres in charity. Those who possess such faith do not engage in reasoning about the truths of faith. Instead they immediately declare them to be true, and also confirm them, so far as they are able, by means of sensory evidence, factual knowledge, and analytical arguments. But as soon as something obscure comes up which they do not perceive they lay it aside and never allow anything like that to lead them into doubt. They say that the things they are able to grasp are very few and that therefore to think that something is not true because they themselves do not grasp it would be madness. These people are those who are governed by charity. But those who do not possess faith inhering in charity have no other desire than to reason whether a thing is true and to know how it is so. They say that if they cannot know how it is so, they are unable to believe that it is so. From this attitude of mind alone they are instantly recognized as those who have no faith at all, and it is a sign not only that they entertain doubts about everything but also that at heart they are deniers. And even when they are informed as to how something is so they remain unmoved and raise all kinds of objections, and would never give up even if this went on for ever. Those who are thus unmoved pile up errors upon errors. These people, or such as they, are in the Word called 'drunk from wine or strong drink'.

[3] As in Isaiah,

These err through urine, and go astray through strong drink. The priest and the prophet err through strong drink. They are swallowed up by wine, they err from strong drink. They err in vision. All tables are full of vomit. Whom will He teach knowledge, and whom will He cause to understand the report? Those weaned from milk, those torn away from the breasts? Isa 28:7-9.

Such people are clearly meant here. In the same prophet,

How do you say to Pharaoh, I am a son of the wise, a son of kings of old? Where are your wise men now? Let them, I pray, tell you. Jehovah has mingled in the midst of her a spirit of perversity, and they have made Egypt err in all her works, as a drunken man errs in his vomit. Isa 19:11, 12, 14.

'A drunken man' stands for people who wish from facts to probe into spiritual and celestial things. 'Egypt' means facts, which also is why he calls himself 'a son of the wise'. In Jeremiah, Drink and get drunk, and vomit, and fall, and do not get up again. Jer 25:27. This stands for falsities.

[4] In David,

They reel and stagger like a drunken man, and all their wisdom will be swallowed up. Ps 107:27.

In Isaiah,

Come, I will get wine, and we will be drunken from strong drink, and tomorrow will be like this day, a great abundance. Isa 56:12.

This has reference to things that are contrary to the truths of faith. In Jeremiah,

Every wineskin will be filled with wine, all the inhabitants of Jerusalem with drunkenness. Jer 13:12, 13.

'Wine' stands for faith, 'drunkenness' for errors. In Joel,

Awake, you drunkards, and weep; and wail, all you drinkers of wine, over the new urine, for it is cut off from your mouth. For a nation is coming up over My land; it is turning My vine into a desolation. Joel 1:5-7.

This refers to the Church vastated as regards truths of faith. In John,

Babylon caused all nations to drink from the wine of the anger of whoredom. The inhabitants of the earth have got drunk with the wine of whoredom. Rev 14:8, 10; 16:19; 17:2; 18:3; 19:15.

'The wine of whoredom' stands for adulterated truths of faith, to which 'drunkenness' has reference. Similarly in Jeremiah,

Babel was a golden cup in Jehovah's hand, making all the earth drunken. The nations have drunk of her wine, therefore the nations are mad. Jer 51:7.

[5] Since 'drunkenness' meant inanities surrounding truths of faith, it also became representative; and Aaron was forbidden to be drunk, as the following shows,

Aaron and his sons were not to drink wine and intoxicating drink when they entered the Tent [of Meeting] lest they died, so that they might distinguish between what was holy and what was unholy, what was unclean and what was clean. Lev 10:8-10.

People who believe nothing except what they grasp through sensory evidence and factual knowledge are also called in Isaiah 'heroes at drinking',

Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and in their own sight intelligent! Woe to heroes at drinking wine, and valiant men in mixing strong drink! Isa 5:21, 22.

They are called 'wise in their own eyes, and in their own sight intelligent' because people who reason against truths of faith imagine that they are wiser than everybody else.

[6] People however who pay no attention to the Word and the truths of faith, and thus who are unwilling to know anything about faith, and so deny its fundamental teachings, are called 'drunk without wine'. In Isaiah,

They were drunk but not with strong drink. For Jehovah has poured upon you a Spirit of sleep, and has closed your eyes. Isa 19:9, 10.

That they are such is clear from what comes before and after this description of them in the prophet. People who are 'drunk' in this sense imagine that they are more alert than anybody else, yet they are in a deep sleep. The fact that the Ancient Church when it began was such as is described in this verse, especially those who belonged to the stock of the Most Ancient Church, becomes clear from what has been stated already in 788.

This page is part of the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

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