Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 4741

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4741. 'That they stripped Joseph of his tunic' means that they removed and annihilated the appearances of truth. This is clear from the meaning of 'stripping', when used in reference to Divine Truth represented here by 'Joseph', as removing and also annihilating; and from the meaning of 'tunic', because this consisted of various colours, as appearances of truth, dealt with in 4677. The removal and annihilation of the appearances of truth takes place once truth itself has been cast aside, for truth itself cannot but shine in people's minds, and no matter how much it is blotted out it remains visible, especially to those who are governed by good. Those who have annihilated truth see it too, and therefore they try to remove and annihilate even those appearances of it.

[2] Take an example to illustrate this. Who does not see that willing what is good and doing it is the whole essence of the Christian life? And if anyone is told that this is charity he is bound to agree. Indeed all who agree will go on to say that they know what willing and doing good is because this is a matter of life. But as for thinking, by the confidence imparted through faith, that this or that is true, as the adherents to faith separated from charity wish to do, they will say that they do not know what this is, for they can have no other conception of it than of smoke which vanishes. Now since faith alone and the confidence it imparts is seen to be like this by all who think seriously about it, especially by the good, those adherents to faith separated from charity strive to remove and annihilate even those appearances by cutting away every idea that is close to Divine Truth or in the neighbourhood of it. This is what is meant by stripping Joseph of the tunic that was on him.

[3] The same people also believe that those persons are wiser than all others who, once they have accepted some dogma, can substantiate it in various ways, and use various reasonings to present it as the truth. This however is anything but the mark of one who is wise. Anyone who is clever enough can do it, the wicked being more expert at it than the upright. Nor indeed is it the mark of a rational man; for a rational man can see from so to speak a higher viewpoint whether it is truth that is being substantiated or whether it is falsity. And this being what he sees he is quite unmoved by arguments substantiating falsity but regards them as senseless and absurd, no matter how much another person believes they are the result of wrestling to obtain pure wisdom. In short, it is anything but the mark of one who is wise, indeed anything but rationality, to be able to substantiate falsities; for it is the mark of a wise one, and it is rationality, when something is first seen to be the truth and is substantiated only after that. That is to say, seeing the truth implies seeing it by the light of heaven which comes from the Lord, but seeing falsity as truth implies seeing it by the inferior light which comes from hell.

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