Arcana Coelestia #5342

By Emanuel Swedenborg

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5342. 'And laid up food in the cities' means that it stored them - truths linked to good - in the interior parts. This is clear from the meaning here of 'laying up' as storing; from the meaning of 'food' as truth linked to good, dealt with just above in 5340; and from the meaning of 'the cities' as the interior parts of the natural mind, dealt with above in 5297. The idea that truths linked to good are stored in the interior parts of the natural mind, and are preserved there for use subsequently in life, in particular for use in temptations when a person is being regenerated, is an arcanum known to few at the present day. Therefore the nature of this arcanum must be stated. The seven years of abundance of corn mean the truths multiplied initially, and the storage of grain in the cities, in the midst of them, means that those truths linked to good were stored away in a person's interior parts. The seven years of famine and the sustainment provided by the bunches that had been gathered means the state of regeneration effected by means of the truths that had been linked to good and stored away in the interior parts.

[2] The arcanum is this: During the time from earliest infancy through to early childhood a person is led by the Lord into heaven; indeed he is placed among celestial angels who serve to keep him in a state of innocence. This state which infants pass through until early childhood is a well-known one. At the beginning of childhood a gradual shedding of that state of innocence takes place; but even so, the person is kept in a state of charity through the charitable affection which he and his companions feel for one another. During this state, which with many people lasts through to adolescence, he is among spiritual angels. Because he begins at this time to think from what is within himself and to act in accordance with this, he cannot be kept any longer in charity, as he was previously; for now he calls on hereditary evils and allows them to lead him. Once this state has arrived the forms of the good of charity and innocence adopted by him previously are banished, to the extent that forms of evil are present in his thinking and are reinforced by his actions. Actually those forms of good are not banished but are withdrawn by the Lord to interior parts where they are stored away.

[3] But because he does not as yet know any truths, those forms of the good of innocence and charity which he has adopted during those two states do not possess any qualities as yet; for truths give good its qualities, while good gives truths their essence. From this time of life onwards therefore he is being equipped with truths by means of the teaching he receives, and especially by means of his own thoughts about and consequent verification of those truths. Insofar as he is moved at this time by an affection for good, the Lord joins truths to good in him, 5340, and stores them away for [future] use. This is the state that is meant by the seven years of abundance of corn. These truths linked to good are the ones which in a proper sense are called remnants. In the measure therefore that a person allows himself to be regenerated, the remnants serve a useful purpose; for the Lord draws in the same measure on that store of remnants and returns them to the natural. As a result a correspondence of exterior things with interior ones, or natural things with spiritual ones, is brought about; and this happens in the state that is meant by 'the seven years of famine'. This is the arcanum.

[4] At the present day the member of the Church thinks that no matter what anyone's life is like he can nevertheless by an act of mercy be accepted into heaven and enjoy eternal blessedness there; for the member of the Church imagines that it is simply a matter of being let in. But he is much mistaken, because no one can be let into heaven and find acceptance there unless he has acquired spiritual life, and no one can acquire spiritual life unless he is being regenerated, and no one can undergo regeneration except by means of goodness of life coupled to truth taught by doctrine. This is the way spiritual life is acquired by him. The fact that no one can enter heaven unless he has acquired spiritual life through regeneration is stated plainly by the Lord in John,

Truly, truly I say to you, Unless anyone is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God. John 9:9.

And just after this,

Truly, truly I say to you, Unless a person has been born from water and the spirit he cannot enter the kingdom of God. John 3:5.

'Water' is the truth taught by doctrine, 2702, 3058, 3424, 4976, and 'the spirit' is goodness of life. No one enters the kingdom simply through being baptized; rather, baptism is the sign denoting regeneration which the member of the Church should call to mind.

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