Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 5036

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5036. 'And committed him to the prison-house' means involving false-speaking against good. This is clear from the meaning of 'being committed to the prison-house' and 'being kept bound there' as being subjected to temptations involving false-speaking against good, dealt with below. But first of all something must be said about temptations. At the present day scarcely anyone in the Christian world knows where temptations originate. Those who undergo them do not believe them to be anything more than the feelings of anguish which creep in because of the evils residing inwardly with a person, which first make him uneasy, then fill him with anxiety, and finally torment him. But he is totally unaware of the fact that they are the work of the evil spirits present with him. The reason he is unaware that this is so is that he does not believe he is in the company of spirits while he is living in the world; indeed he has scarcely any belief that any spirit at all is present with him, when in fact a person, so far as his interiors are concerned, exists in constant association with spirits and angels.

[2] As for temptations themselves, they are going on while a person is in the actual process of being regenerated, for no one can be regenerated unless he also undergoes temptations; and the evil spirits around him are the means through which those temptations are brought about. In temptation the person is brought into a state in which the evil that possesses him, that is, possesses his own essential self, is dominant. Once he enters this state evil and hellish spirits surround him, and when they realize that inwardly he is protected by angels those evil spirits reactivate the false ideas he has previously contemplated and the evil deeds he has committed. But the angels defend him from within. This conflict is what the person experiences as temptation, yet the experience is so vague that he is aware of it as scarcely anything more than a feeling of anxiety. For a person, especially one who has no belief at all in influx, dwells in a state of complete obscurity and discerns scarcely the smallest fraction of the things over which evil spirits and angels are engaged in conflict. Yet a battle is taking place at such a time over that person and his eternal salvation, with both sides using what is within him; for both draw on what resides with the person and engage in conflict over it. The truth of this I have been led most certainly to know. I have heard such conflict going on, I have perceived the influx taking place, and I have seen the spirits and the angels, to whom I spoke at the time and subsequently about what was happening.

[3] As stated, temptations arise primarily when a person is becoming spiritual, for at that time he is gaining a spiritual understanding of the truths of doctrine. The person himself is often unaware that this is happening; even so, the angels present with him see spiritual concerns within his natural ones since his interiors at this time are open towards heaven. (This also explains why, after living in the world, a person who has been regenerated is among angels, where he both sees and perceives the spiritual concerns which had previously appeared to him as natural ones.) When therefore a person is such as this, it is possible for the angels to defend him in temptation when he is assailed by evil spirits; for the angels then have a place that has been established in him into which they can operate; that is, they can flow into the spiritual level established in him, and through this into that which is natural.

[4] Once therefore outermost truth has been removed, with the result that the person does not possess anything to protect himself from those who are natural, dealt with in 5006, 5008, 5009, 5022, 5028, he enters into temptations in which evil spirits, all of whom are wholly natural, make accusations against him, especially that of false-speaking against good. They say, for example, that he has thought and said that good should be done to the neighbour and has also given proof of this in his actions, yet by the neighbour he now means only those with whom good and truth are present, not those with whom evil and falsity are present and who are incapable of receiving correction. Consequently, because he is no longer willing to do good to the evil, apart from punishing them so as to correct them and to protect his neighbour from what is evil, they accuse him of having thought and spoken what was false and of not thinking as he speaks.

[5] Take another example. Because a person, once he has become spiritual, no longer believes it to be a holy and godly act to give to monasteries or even churches where great wealth exists, and because prior to his becoming spiritual he had thought it a holy and godly thing to do, those spirits accuse him of falsity. They reactivate all the thoughts he had cherished previously about such holy and godly giving, as well as all his actual deeds resulting from that way of thinking. Those spirits make similar accusations in countless other instances which these examples serve merely to illustrate somewhat. In particular those spirits enter the affections which the person possessed previously and reactivate these, reactivating also the falsities and evils which he had thought and committed, and in this way they fill him with anxiety and quite often with doubt extending to the point of despair.

[6] Such then is the origin of spiritual kinds of anxiety and of those feelings called the pangs of conscience. What makes these appear to exist essentially within himself is influx and communication. Anyone who knows and believes this may be compared to a person who sees himself in a mirror but knows that it is not he himself who appears in the mirror or on the other side of it, only his image, whereas anyone who does not know and believe this may be compared to a person who sees himself in the mirror and supposes that he himself, not his image, appears there.

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