Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 233

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233. Investigating mysteries of faith by means of facts is as impossible as it is for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, or for a rib to control the tiniest fibres of the chest and the heart. Just as gross, indeed far more gross, is what is sensory and factual in comparison with what is spiritual and celestial. Anyone who wishes to probe merely the secrets of nature, which are countless, discovers scarcely a single one, and when he starts to probe he sinks, as is well known, into falsities. What then would happen if he wished to probe the secrets of spiritual and celestial life, where thousands and thousands of secrets exist for each one contained in the unseen parts of nature?

[2] To illustrate the point, let just one example be taken. Of himself man is incapable of anything other than doing evil and turning himself away from the Lord. Yet it is not the man who does so but the evil spirits residing with him. Yet again it is not the evil spirits who do it but the evil itself which they have made their own. All the same, man does that evil and turns himself away, and is blameworthy, even though his life comes from the Lord alone. On the other hand man of himself cannot possibly do good and return to the Lord. This is accomplished by angels. Yet the angels cannot do it, but only the Lord. All the same, man is capable as if of himself of doing good and of returning to the Lord. The truth of all this cannot possibly be grasped by the senses, formulated knowledge, or philosophy. If these are consulted they deny those things outright, even though they are inherently true. And the same applies with everything else.

[3] These considerations show that people who consult sensory evidence and factual knowledge in matters of belief plunge themselves not only into doubt but also into denial, that is, into thick darkness. And in plunging into thick darkness they also become immersed in every kind of evil desire, for in believing what is false they also do what is false. And when they believe that the spiritual and the celestial do not exist they believe that only the bodily and the worldly do so. So they love anything that belongs to self and the world, and this is how evil desires and evils themselves arise out of what is false.

GENESIS 3:14-19

  1. And Jehovah God said to the serpent, Because you have done this, cursed are you, more than every beast, and more than every wild animal of the field; on your belly you will go, and dust will you eat all the days of your life.
  2. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He will tread down your head, and you will bruise His heel.
  3. And to the woman He said, I will greatly multiply your pain and your conceiving; in Pain you will bear sons; and your obedience will be to your husband, and he will have dominion over you.
  4. And to the man He said, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat from it, cursed be the ground on account of you; in great pain you will eat of it all the days of your life.
  5. And thorn and thistle will it bring forth for you, and you will eat the plant of the field.
  6. With sweat on your brow you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you will return.


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