De obras de Swedenborg


Arcana Coelestia #2694

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2694. 'Do not be afraid, for God has heard the boy's voice where he is' means the hope of help. This is clear from the meaning of 'do not be afraid' as not despairing, for once fear is removed hope is at hand; and from the meaning of 'hearing the boy's voice' as help, dealt with above in 2691, where similar words occur. The subject in previous verses has been the state of desolation which those people experience who are being reformed and becoming spiritual. But now the subject is the restoration of them, and here their comfort and hope of help.

[2] The fact that those who are being reformed are brought into a state of not knowing any truth, that is, into a state of desolation, insomuch that they experience grief and despair, and that at this point for the first time they receive comfort and help from the Lord, is something that is not known at the present day for the reason that few are being reformed. Those who are such that they are able to be reformed are brought into this state, if not during this life then in the next, where that state is very well known and is called vastation or desolation, regarding which something has been said in Volume One, where also see 1109. Those who experience such vastation or desolation are brought to the point of despair, and when in that state they receive comfort and help from the Lord, and at length are taken away out of that state into heaven, where in the presence of angels they are taught so to speak anew the goods and truths of faith. The primary reason why they undergo vastation or desolation is so that the things of which they are firmly persuaded, originating in what is properly their own, may crumble, see 2682, and also that they may receive the perception of good and truth, which perception they are not able to receive until those false persuasions originating in what is their own are so to speak softened. And it is the state of distress and grief even to the point of despair that effects this change. What good is, and indeed what blessedness and happiness are, nobody with even the sharpest mind is able to perceive unless he has experienced the state of being deprived of good, blessedness, and happiness. It is from this experience that he acquires a sphere of perception; and he acquires it to the same degree that he has experienced the contrary state, for the sphere of perception and how far it extends are determined by his experience of the two contrary states. These, in addition to many others, are the reasons for vastation or desolation. Let the following examples illustrate the matter.

[3] Take those people who attribute everything to their own prudence, and little or nothing to Divine Providence. Even if thousands of reasons are produced to prove that Divine Providence is universal, but universal because it exists in every least thing, and that not even a hair falls from the head - that is, nothing however small exists that has not been foreseen and that has not been provided accordingly - their state of thought regarding their own prudence would remain unaltered, except for the brief moment when they feel convinced by such arguments. Indeed if the same matter were proved to them by actual experiences, they would while witnessing or taking part in such experiences acknowledge the truth of it, but after a short while they would revert to their previous outlook. Such experiences have a fleeting effect on people's thought but not on their affection, and unless the affection is broken down the thought remains in its same state as before; for the thought receives its conviction and its life from the affection. But when the feelings of distress and grief enter into them because they have no power at all that is their own to do anything, and those feelings reach the point of despair, their firm persuasion is broken down and their state altered. In this case they can be brought to a conviction that they have no power that is their own to do anything, and that all power, prudence, intelligence and wisdom originate in the Lord. The same is true of people who believe that their faith is self-derived and their good self-derived.

[4] Let a further example illustrate the matter. Take those who have become firmly persuaded that once they have been made righteous no evil resides with them any longer, but has been completely wiped away and destroyed, and thus that they are pure. Thousands of arguments could be used to make it clear to them that nothing is wiped away or destroyed, but that those people are withheld from evil and maintained in good by the Lord who from the life of good which they have led in the world are such that they can be withheld from evil and maintained in good by Him. In addition to these arguments they could be convinced from experiences that they are of themselves nothing but evil, indeed that they are nothing but utterly filthy masses of evil. But in spite of all those arguments and experiences they would still not depart from their opinion and belief. But when they are brought into a particular state in order that they may perceive hell within themselves, and perceiving this so clearly as to despair of the possibility of their own salvation, that firm persuasion is for the first time broken down and with it their pride and their contempt for all others in comparison with themselves, and also their arrogant assumption that they are the only ones who are saved. They can now be brought into a true confession of faith, not merely to the confession that all good comes from the Lord but also that all things exist because of His mercy; and at length they can be brought into humility of heart before the Lord, the existence of which is impossible without acknowledgement of what they are in themselves. From this it is now evident why those who are being reformed or becoming spiritual are brought into the state of vastation or desolation dealt with in the verses previous to this, and how, when experiencing this state even to the point of despair, they for the first time receive comfort and help from the Lord.

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Thanks to the Swedenborg Society for the permission to use this translation.

La Biblia


Genesis 21



1 And the LORD visited Sarah as he had said, and the LORD did unto Sarah as he had spoken.

2 For Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him.

3 And Abraham called the name of his son that was born unto him, whom Sarah bare to him, Isaac.

4 And Abraham circumcised his son Isaac being eight days old, as God had commanded him.

5 And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him.

6 And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me.

7 And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age.

8 And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned.

9 And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking.

10 Wherefore she said unto Abraham, Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac.

11 And the thing was very grievous in Abraham's sight because of his son.

12 And God said unto Abraham, Let it not be grievous in thy sight because of the lad, and because of thy bondwoman; in all that Sarah hath said unto thee, hearken unto her voice; for in Isaac shall thy seed be called.

13 And also of the son of the bondwoman will I make a nation, because he is thy seed.

14 And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beer-sheba.

15 And the water was spent in the bottle, and she cast the child under one of the shrubs.

16 And she went, and sat her down over against him a good way off, as it were a bowshot: for she said, Let me not see the death of the child. And she sat over against him, and lift up her voice, and wept.

17 And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What aileth thee, Hagar? fear not; for God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is.

18 Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation.

19 And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water, and gave the lad drink.

20 And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer.

21 And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt.

22 And it came to pass at that time, that Abimelech and Phichol the chief captain of his host spake unto Abraham, saying, God is with thee in all that thou doest:

23 Now therefore swear unto me here by God that thou wilt not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my son's son: but according to the kindness that I have done unto thee, thou shalt do unto me, and to the land wherein thou hast sojourned.

24 And Abraham said, I will swear.

25 And Abraham reproved Abimelech because of a well of water, which Abimelech's servants had violently taken away.

26 And Abimelech said, I wot not who hath done this thing: neither didst thou tell me, neither yet heard I of it, but to day.

27 And Abraham took sheep and oxen, and gave them unto Abimelech; and both of them made a covenant.

28 And Abraham set seven ewe lambs of the flock by themselves.

29 And Abimelech said unto Abraham, What mean these seven ewe lambs which thou hast set by themselves?

30 And he said, For these seven ewe lambs shalt thou take of my hand, that they may be a witness unto me, that I have digged this well.

31 Wherefore he called that place Beer-sheba; because there they sware both of them.

32 Thus they made a covenant at Beer-sheba: then Abimelech rose up, and Phichol the chief captain of his host, and they returned into the land of the Philistines.

33 And Abraham planted a grove in Beer-sheba, and called there on the name of the LORD, the everlasting God.

34 And Abraham sojourned in the Philistines' land many days.