Arcana Coelestia (Elliott) n. 9192

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9192. 'He who sacrifices to the gods' means worship composed of falsities arising from evil. This is clear from the meaning of 'offering sacrifice' as worship, worship being meant by 'offering sacrifice' because sacrifices were the chief forms of worship among the Israelite and Jewish people, 923, 6905, 8680, 8936; and from the meaning of 'the gods' as falsities, dealt with in 4402(end), 4544, 7873, 8941. The expression 'worship composed of falsities arising from evil' is used since it is the opposite of worship composed of truths springing from good. For the guidelines of all worship are religious teachings, which to the extent that they spring from good are truths, and to the extent that they arise from evil are falsities. The truths derive the essence and the life that is theirs from the good, while on the other hand the falsities derive the death that is theirs from the evil.

[2] The implications of all this are that there are some people who possess authentic truths, some who possess unauthentic truths, and some who possess falsities. And yet those who possess the authentic truths are often damned, while those who possess the unauthentic truths, and those too who possess falsities, are often saved. To most people this will seem to be paradoxical, but it is nevertheless the truth. Actual experience has proved it to me. I have seen in hell those who were more learned than others in truths derived from the Word and from the teachings of their Church, both prelates and others. On the other hand I have seen in heaven those who possessed unauthentic truths, and even those who possessed falsities, both Christians and gentiles.

[3] The reason why the former were in hell was that in doctrine they had indeed possessed truths, but in life they had been steeped in evils. And the reason why the latter were in heaven was that in doctrine they had indeed possessed unauthentic truths, but in life they had nevertheless been governed by good. Some spirits who had arrived recently in the next life and to whom I was allowed to speak were amazed that those who were more learned than others in the Word and in the teachings of their Church should be among the damned. They had supposed that these would be leading lights in heaven, in accordance with the following words in Daniel,

Those who have intelligence will shine like the brightness of the expanse, and those who turn many to righteousness like the stars forever and into eternity. Dan 12:3.

But I told those spirits that 'those who have intelligence' are people who possess truth and teach truths, and 'those who turn others to righteousness' are people who are governed by good and lead others to good, and that this was why the Lord said,

The righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Matt 13:43.

The word 'righteousness' has reference to good, so that 'the righteous' are those governed by good, see 2235.

[4] I went on to tell those spirits that people who are learned in doctrine but evil in the life they lead are the ones to whom the Lord was referring in Matthew,

Many will say to Me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy through Your name, and through Your name cast out demons, and do many mighty works in Your name? But then I will confess to them, I do not know you; depart from Me, you workers of iniquity. Matt 7:22, 23.

And in Luke,

Then you will begin to say, We ate in Your presence and we drank; You taught in our streets. But He will say, I say to you, I do not know where you come from; depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity. Luke 13:26, 27.

The same people were also meant by the foolish virgins who had no oil in their lamps, who are spoken of in Matthew,

Finally those virgins came, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But He replying said, Truly I say to you, I do not know you. Matt 25:11, 12.

'Having oil in their lamps' means having good within truths that belong to the Church's faith, 4638, 'oil' being the good of love, see 886, 4582.

[5] I also told those spirits that those who possess unauthentic truths, and indeed those who as a result of their ignorance possess falsities, yet are governed by good and therefore desire to know the truth, were meant by the Lord in Matthew,

I say to you that many will come from the east even to the west and will recline with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the sons of the kingdom will be cast into outer darkness. Matt 8:11, 12.

And in Luke,

They will come from the east and the west, and from the north and the south, reclining in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last. Luke 13:29, 30.

The fact that gentiles who are governed by good, even though as a result of their ignorance they possess unauthentic truths, are received into heaven, see 2589-2604, 2861, 2863, 3263, 4190, 4197.

[6] From all this it now becomes clear that 'those who sacrifice to the gods' means people whose worship consists of falsity arising from evil, and that they are the ones who 'shall be utterly destroyed', that is, cast out. Falsities arising from evil are evils in an outward form, for when evil steps out into the light and dons an outward form it is called falsity. So it is that if people are ruled by evil in the life they lead, then even though in doctrine they possess truths, they are still steeped in falsities arising from their evil. The truth of this is plain to see in the next life. When those people are left to themselves, then evil that goes against the truths they have known and claimed to believe in governs their thinking, that is, falsities compose it. Those same people behave in a similar way in the world if left to themselves; for then their thoughts are such that those people either pervert truths or deny truths, in order to justify the evils of their life.

[7] But people who are governed by good yet possess unauthentic truths, and even people who possess falsities because they know no better (of whom there are very many within the Church, and also very many outside it, called gentiles), do indeed regard their falsities as truths. But since these falsities proceed from good and those people bend them towards good, there is nothing harmful about them, as there is about falsities that arise from evil. And since falsities arising from good are gentle and yielding, those people are capable of receiving truths, and do indeed receive them when given instruction by angels. These falsities may be compared to food that looks bad but is nevertheless palatable, whereas falsities arising from evil may be compared to bad-looking food that is rotten inside. Truths that arise from evil however may be compared to food that looks good yet contains what is harmful, or if hypocrisy is present is poisonous, as the Lord teaches in Matthew,

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you make yourselves like white-washed sepulchres, which outwardly do indeed appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people's bones and of all uncleanness. Matt 23:27.

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