Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 9025

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9025. 'And a man strikes his companion with a stone or a fist' means the weakening of one [particular truth] by some factual truth or by some general truth. This is clear from the meaning of 'striking' as injuring, dealt with in 7136, 7146, 9007, at this point weakening since it refers to truths contained in factual knowledge; from the meaning of 'a stone' as truth, dealt with in 643, 1298, 3720, 3769, 3771, 3773, 3789, 3798, 6426, 8941 - truth on the lowest level of order, that is, within the natural, which is factual truth, 8609; and from the meaning of 'a fist' as general truth. For 'the hand' means the power that truth possesses, 3091, 4931, 7188, 7189, and therefore 'the fist' means full power from general truth. The expression 'general truth' describes what has been received and prevails in all parts. Consequently the words 'striking with a fist' mean with full force and power - in the spiritual sense exerted through truths that spring from good, and in the contrary sense through falsities that arise from evil. Those words are used in the latter sense in Isaiah,

Behold, you fast for quarrel and contention, to strike with the fist of wickedness. Isa 58:4.

'Striking with the fist of wickedness' stands for doing so with full force exerted through falsities arising from evil.

[2] What it is to weaken some truth that the Church possesses by means of factual truth or general truth must be explained. The expression 'factual truths' is used to mean truths derived from the literal sense of the Word. General truths derived from there are those which have been accepted by ordinary people and as a result occur in everyday conversation. Such truths are very many, and prevail with much force. But the literal sense of the Word is for simple people, for those who are being introduced into more internal truths of faith and for those who do not understand internal ones. For that sense accords with what a person ruled by the senses sees, that is, it accords with that level of understanding. This explains why statements that are dissimilar, seemingly contradicting one another, appear many times there. In one place, for example, it may say that the Lord leads into temptation, in another that He does not; in one that the Lord repents, in another that He does not; in one that in His actions the Lord is moved by anger and wrath, in another by pure forbearance and mercy; in one that souls are presented for judgement immediately after death, in another at the time of the last judgement; and so on. Because such statements are derived from the literal sense of the Word they are called factual truths; and they are different from the truths of faith that compose the teachings of the Church. For the truths of faith arise out of the literal statements through explanation of them; for when they are explained a member of the Church is taught that such statements occur in the Word on account of people's level of understanding and in accordance with the appearance. So it is also that in very many instances the teachings of the Church depart from the literal sense of the Word. It should be realized that the genuine teachings of the Church are what the expression 'internal sense' describes at this point; for the internal sense contains truths such as angels in heaven possess.

[3] Among the priests and the members of the Church there are those who teach and learn the Church's truths from the literal sense of the Word, and there are those who teach and learn them from teachings drawn from the Word, called the Church's doctrine of faith. The perception of the second group is very different indeed from that of the first; yet ordinary people cannot tell them apart because both groups speak from the Word in almost the same way. However those who teach and learn solely the literal sense of the Word without guidance from the teachings of the Church grasp no more than matters that concern the natural or external man, whereas those guided by genuine teachings drawn from the Word understand in addition the matters that concern the spiritual or internal man. The reason for this is that the Word in the external or literal sense is natural, but in the internal sense it is spiritual. In the Word the first is called 'the cloud', but the second 'the glory in the cloud', 5922, 6343 (end), 6752, 8106, 8781.

[4] From all this one may now see what is meant by contention among them regarding truths, and by a weakening of one [particular truth] by some factual truth or some general truth. A factual or a general truth is a truth derived from the literal sense of the Word, as has been stated; and since they are dissimilar and seemingly contradictory, sometimes they cannot do other than weaken the spiritual truths that constitute the teachings of the Church. They are weakened when doubt enters a person's thinking because places in the Word say the opposite of one other. This state regarding the truths of faith as they exist with a person is the subject here in the internal sense.

This page is part of the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg

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