Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 7298

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7298. 'And they threw down each one his rod, and they were made into water-serpents' means power derived from order by which they became obtuse in their discernment of truth. This is clear from the meaning of 'throwing down the rod' as a demonstration of power, dealt with in 7292; and from the meaning of 'water-serpents' as falsities resulting from illusions, dealt with in 7293, here obtuseness in the discernment of truth, for when illusions prevent people from discerning truths, that ability is also made obtuse or is blunted. A like blunting of it is also brought about by magicians in the next life; they achieve it by the misuse and perversion of order. For they know how to remove influences coming in from heaven; and once they have done that the ability to discern truth is blunted. They also know how to introduce illusions and present them in light that is seemingly the light of truth, and how at the same time to blur actual truths. They know too how to instill false belief and thereby blunt a person's ability to discern truth, besides other ways of producing the same effect. When that ability has been blunted falsities are seen as truths, and these are meant by sorceries and enchantments. From all this one may see how magicians can produce something which to outward appearances looks similar [to Aaron's miracle].

[2] In addition it should be recognized that it is in accordance with the laws of order that no one should become convinced of the truth instantaneously, that is, should instantaneously be made so sure of the truth that he is left in no doubt at all about it. The reason for this is that when truth is impressed on a person in that kind of way, he becomes so fully convinced of it that it cannot be broadened in any way or qualified in any way. Truth like this is represented in the next life as that which is hard, not allowing good into itself to make it pliable. This goes to explain why in the next life as soon as some truth is presented through plain experience to good spirits, some opposing idea giving rise to doubt is presented. In this way they are led to think and ponder over whether it is indeed a truth, gather reasons in support of it, and so introduce that truth into their minds by the use of reason. This enables their spiritual vision in respect of that truth to be broadened, seeing even into the ideas that are opposed to it. They therefore see and perceive with their understanding every characteristic of the truth, and from this are able to let in the influences coming from heaven as the situation demands; for truths take varying forms as dictated by circumstances. This is also the reason why the magicians were allowed to do the same as Aaron had done; for in that way a miracle performed among the children of Israel was placed in doubt as to whether it was Divine, and that gave them the opportunity to think and ponder over whether it was Divine before at length assuring themselves that it was.

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