Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 5651

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5651. 'And take us as slaves, and our asses' means even to the point where whatever exists in either part of the natural is of no worth. This is clear from the representation of the ten sons of Jacob - who say this about themselves - as the truths in the natural, dealt with in 5403, 5419, 5427, 5458, 5512; from the meaning of 'slaves' or 'servants' as things own power and control, which in this case which are of little value, 2541, in this case those that are of no worth, dealt with below; and from the meaning of 'asses' as what was present in the natural, namely factual knowledge, dealt with in 5922, in this case facts present in the exterior natural since the truths meant by 'the sons of Jacob' reside in the interior natural.

[2] The implications of this, that whatever exists in either part of the natural is of no worth, are as follows: If a person is to become spiritual his natural must come to be of no worth, that is, it must cease to have any power that is essentially its own; for to the extent that the natural has any power of its own the spiritual lacks it. Since earliest childhood the natural has been acquiring no other ambitions than those that spring from selfish and worldly desires, thus ones that are the opposite of charity. These evil ambitions make it impossible for good to flow in from the Lord by way of the internal man; for whatever flows in is turned within the natural into what is evil, the natural being the final level into which what is inflowing goes. Consequently unless the natural, that is, the evil and falsity that have been giving shape to the natural, comes to be of no worth, no good can possibly flow in from the Lord by way of heaven. It finds no dwelling-place there and is dissipated, for it cannot stay in what is evil and false. For this reason the internal remains closed to the extent that the natural fails to become of no worth. This is something known within the Church from the teaching that one should put off the old man in order that one may put

[3] Regeneration consists in nothing else than the natural being made subservient and the spiritual becoming its lord; and the natural is made subservient when it is made to correspond to the spiritual. Once the natural is made to correspond it is no longer reactionary but acts as it is commanded, answering the beck and call of the spiritual, almost as the actions of the body are answers to the beck and call of the will, or as speech and facial expressions conform to the thought flowing into them. From this it is evident that for a person to become spiritual, his natural must come to be, so far as his power of will is concerned, of no on the new.a

[4] But it should be realized that it is the old natural that must come to be of no worth, since it is shaped by evils and falsities. Once it has been made of no worth the person is endowed with a new natural, called the spiritual, natural. This is called spiritual because the spiritual is what acts by means of it and also makes itself known through it, in the way a cause does through its effect - the cause, as is well known, being the entire reason for the effect. Consequently the new natural, so far as the activities of thought, will, and putting into effect are concerned, is nothing else than the representative of the spiritual. When this new natural comes into being a person receives good from the Lord; when worth whatsoever he receives that good truths are conferred on him; when those truths are conferred on him his intelligence and wisdom are made more perfect; and when his intelligence and wisdom are made more perfect he is blessed with happiness that lasts for ever.


a A Pauline teaching; see for example Eph 4:22-24; Col 3:9, 10.

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