Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 3665

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3665. 'To the home of Bethuel your mother's father, and take for yourself from there a wife from the daughters of Laban your mother's brother' means a parallel external good, and the truth which sprang from this good and was to be joined [to the good of the natural]. This is clear from the representation of 'Bethuel' as good existing with those who make up a first group of gentiles, dealt with in 2865; from the representation of 'Laban' as the affection for good in the natural man, that is, the affection for external good, strictly speaking a parallel good that springs from a common stock, dealt with in 3129, 3130, 3160, 3612; and from the meaning of 'taking a wife from his daughters' as being brought into association with or joined to affections for truth from that source. For 'taking a wife', as is self-evident, means being joined to, and 'daughters' means affections, see 568, 2362, 3024. From this it is clear what those words mean, namely that the good of the natural represented here by 'Jacob' was to be joined to truths which came from a parallel external good.

[2] The implications of this are that when a person is being regenerated the Lord leads him first of all as an infant, then as a child, after that as a young person, and at length as an adult. The truths which he learns as a small child are totally external and bodily, for he is not yet capable of grasping more interior things. Those truths are no more than cognitions of such things as inmostly contain Divine things within them. For there are some cognitions of things which do not inmostly contain anything Divine and there are other cognitions which do. Cognitions that do contain the Divine inmostly are such that they can receive interior truths into themselves, increasingly so, one after another in their proper order, whereas cognitions that do not contain the Divine are such that they do not so receive them but spurn them. For the cognitions of external and bodily good and truth are like the soil which, depending on its own particular nature, receives into itself one kind of seed but not another, and is productive of one variety of seed but is destructive of another. Cognitions which inmostly contain the Divine receive spiritual and celestial truth and good into themselves, for it is by virtue of the Divine within, bringing order to them, that makes them what they are. But cognitions that do not contain the Divine receive only falsity and evil, such being their nature. Those cognitions of external and bodily truth which do receive spiritual and celestial truth and good are meant here by 'the daughters of Laban from the home of Bethuel', while those that do not receive them are meant by 'the daughters of Canaan'.

[3] The cognitions which people learn from infancy onwards into childhood are like very general vessels, which exist to be filled with goods. And as they are filled a person is enlightened. If the vessels are such that they can contain genuine goods within them, the person is in that case enlightened, step by step and increasingly so from the Divine that is within them. But if they are such that they cannot contain genuine goods within them he is not in that case enlightened. He may indeed give the appearance of being enlightened, but this comes about from the illusory light that goes with falsity and evil. Indeed those cognitions place him all the more in obscurity as regards good and truth.

[4] Such cognitions are manifold, so manifold that one can hardly count even the genera of them, let alone identify their species. For they derive in their multiplicity from the Divine and then pass by way of the rational into the natural. That is to say, certain of them flow in directly by way of the good of the rational, and from there into the good of the natural, and also into the truth that goes with that good, and again from there into the external or bodily natural, where also they depart into various channels; but others flow in indirectly by way of the truth of the rational into the truth of the natural, and also into the good that goes with this truth, and again from there into the external or bodily natural, see 3573, 3616. All this is like nations, families, and houses, in which there are blood relatives and relatives by marriage; that is to say, there are those in the direct line of descent from the chief ancestor and there are those belonging to an increasingly indirect or parallel line. In the heavens these things are quite distinct and separate, for all the communities there are distinguished according to genera and species of good and truth, and so according to how near they are in relation to one another, 685, 2508, 2524, 2556, 2739, 3612. The most ancient people, being celestial, also represented those communities by their dwelling as distinct and separate nations, families, and houses, 470, 471, 483, 1159, 1246. This was also the reason why members of the representative Church were commanded to contract marriages within the families which made up their own nation; for by so doing they could represent heaven and the interconnection of its communities as regards good and truth. That representation is exemplified here by Jacob's going to the home of Bethuel his mother's father and his taking a wife for himself from there from the daughters of Laban his mother's brother.

[5] As regards cognitions themselves of external or bodily truth which come from a parallel good and, as has been stated, contain the Divine and so are able to receive genuine truths within them, they are like cognitions present with small children who at a later time undergo regeneration. They are in general such as those that are found in the historical narratives of the Word, for example, in what is said there about Paradise, about the first human being in Paradise, about the tree of life in the middle of it, and about the tree of knowledge where the deceiving serpent was. These are cognitions which contain the Divine and which receive spiritual and celestial goods and truths into themselves because they represent and mean these. Such cognitions also constitute all the other descriptions in historical narratives of the Word, for example, those in the Word concerning the Tabernacle, concerning the Temple, and concerning the construction of these; likewise what is said about Aaron's vestments and those of his sons; also about the feasts of tabernacles, of first fruits, and of unleavened bread, and about other matters of a similar nature. When these and similar details are known and thought about by a small child, the thoughts of the angels residing with him at that time are concerned with the Divine things which they represent and mean. And because the angels are stirred by an affection for these things, that affection is communicated. This produces the joy and delight that the child gets out of them, and it prepares his mind for the reception of genuine truths and goods. These and very many others are the cognitions of external and bodily truth that come from a parallel good.

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