Arcana Coelestia #2689

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2689. 'And lifted up her voice and wept' means a further degree of grief. This becomes clear from the meaning of 'lifting up the voice and weeping' as the utmost extremity of grief, for weeping with a loud voice is nothing else. Described in this verse is a state of desolation of truth and of withdrawal from truths, as experienced by those who are becoming spiritual. What this state is like must be explained briefly: People who are not able to be reformed have no knowledge at all of what it is to grieve on account of being deprived of truths, for they imagine that no one can possibly become distressed for a reason such as that. The only circumstances, they believe, which can lead to such distress exist when someone is deprived of those good gifts to men that are of a bodily and worldly kind, such as health, position, reputation, wealth, and life. But those who are able to be reformed believe altogether differently. They are maintained by the Lord in the affection for good and in the thought of truth, and therefore come to be distressed when deprived of these.

[2] It is well known that all distress and grief are the result of a person's being deprived of the things for which he has affection, that is, which he loves. Those whose affection is solely for bodily and worldly things, that is, who love solely these, grieve when deprived of them, whereas those whose affection is for spiritual goods and truths, and who love these, grieve when deprived of them. The life in any person is nothing else than affection or love. From this one may see the nature of the state of those who are desolated as regards the goods and truths for which they have affection, that is, which they love; that is to say, one may see that their state of grief, being more interior, is more severe, and that in being deprived of good and truth it is not death of the body which they are bothered about but eternal death. It is their state which is described here.

[3] So that it may also be known which people can be maintained by the Lord in the affection for good and truth and so be reformed and become spiritual, and which ones cannot, this too must be explained briefly. In childhood everyone, when being for the first time endowed with goods and truths, is maintained by the Lord in the affirmative attitude that anything said or taught by parents and teachers is true. With those who are able to become spiritual this affirmative attitude is strengthened by means of facts and cognitions, for whatever they learn and is relevant introduces itself into the affirmative outlook and strengthens it, leading more and more towards affection for it. These are ones who become spiritual in accordance with the essence of the truth in which they have faith, and who are victorious in temptations. But it is quite different with those who are not able to become spiritual. Although in childhood an affirmative attitude exists with them, when they are older they allow doubts to enter in which thus destroy the affirmative attitude towards good and truth. And when they reach adult years they allow denials to enter in, and even the affection for what is false to enter in. If such people were led into temptations they would give in completely. Consequently they are kept free from them.

[4] But the real reason why they allow doubts and subsequently denials to enter in may be traced back to their life of evil. People who lead a life of evil cannot possibly do otherwise. The life in any person, as has been stated, is affection or love, and as is the nature of that affection or love so is the nature of his thought. The affection for evil and the thought of truth never join themselves together. In cases where they seem to join themselves, they do not in fact do so, for the thought of truth exists without the affection for it. With such people therefore truth is not truth, but merely a sound or something on the lips, from which the heart is far away. Even very wicked people can know such truth, better than anybody else sometimes. Some are also so strongly persuaded by truth of that kind that no one can see it as other than genuine. But it is not genuine truth if the life of good is absent. It is affection belonging to self-love or love of the world which causes that strong persuasion of it, which they also defend with a vehemence that is evidence of apparent zeal; indeed they go so far as to condemn people who do not receive it or believe it in a similar way. But this kind of truth varies from one person to another according to his basic way of thinking, the strength of that truth depending on the strength of his self-love or his love of the world. It is, it is true, born together with evil, but it does not join itself to evil, and therefore in the next life is rooted out. It is different in the case of those who lead a life of good; in them the truth itself finds its soil, and its ability to grow, and from the Lord its life.

(References: Genesis 21:16)

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From Swedenborg's Works

Inbound References:

Arcana Coelestia 2715, 3324, 3895

The New Jerusalem and its Heavenly Doctrine 27, 121, 184

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