Arcana Coelestia #5897

By Emanuel Swedenborg

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5897. 'To establish for you a remnant on the earth' means the middle and inmost part of the Church. This is clear from the meaning of 'a remnant' as forms of good coupled with truths and inwardly stored away by the Lord in a person, dealt with in 468, 530, 560, 561, 660, 1050, 1906, 2284, 5135, 5342; in this case the middle and inmost part of the Church is meant. The description 'middle and inmost part' is used because what is inmost in a person occupies the middle of the natural, where inmost things and relatively internal ones coexist. In general, where there is a series of things following one another consecutively, and another series in which they spread out and coexist, as they do in the natural, the inmost of that series are one and the same as those in the middle or centre of the second series. Such is the way that inmost things arrange themselves within more external ones. 'To establish for you a remnant on the earth 'implies that an inmost part of the Church will exist among the sons of Jacob. Not that they themselves were to be in that inmost part but that a representative of the Church, to all outward appearance a real Church, was to be established among them, where also the Word was to exist. These are the things that are meant by 'a remnant' when the expression refers to the Church understood separately from the nation.

[2] Reference is made in various places in the Word to 'the remnant', and also to 'the ones who are left'; but so far these two expressions have been taken in a purely literal way to mean a remnant or those that are left of a people or nation. The fact that forms of good and truth stored away by the Lord in the interior man are meant in the spiritual sense has remained totally unknown till now. Examples of this meaning occur in the following places:

In Isaiah,

On that day the branch of Jehovah will be honour and glory, and the fruit of the land will be magnificence and an adornment for the escape of Israel. And it will happen, that he who remains in Zion, and he who is left in Jerusalem, will be called holy, everyone who has been written for life in Jerusalem. Isaiah 4:2-3.

Those who remained in Zion and those who were left in Jerusalem were never made holy, nor were they 'written for life' any more than anyone else. Plainly therefore 'those who remained' and 'those who were left' mean things that are holy and that have been 'written for life'; and these things are forms of good joined to truths that have been stored away by the Lord in the interior man.

[3] In the same prophet,

On that day, the remnant of Israel and those of the house of Jacob that escaped will no more lean on him that smote them; but they will lean on Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, in truth. A remnant will return, the remnant of Jacob, to the God of power. Isaiah 10:20-22.

'The remnant' is not used to mean the remnant of any people or nation, as may be recognized from the fact that in the Word, especially the prophetical part, 'Israel' has not been used to mean Israel, or 'Jacob' to mean Jacob; both are used to mean the Church and what constitutes the Church. This being so, 'the remnant' is not used to mean a remnant of Israel and Jacob but the truths and forms of good that constitute the Church. When the expressions 'remnant of the people' and 'those left of the nation' are used they do not mean a remnant of any people or those that are left of any nation, for 'people' in the internal sense means truths, 1259, 1260, 3295, 3581, and 'nation' forms of good, 1259, 1260, 1416. The reason why this has remained unknown and seems strange - that 'a remnant' means truths and forms of good - is that the literal sense, especially where it takes the form of history, draws the mind away and powerfully withholds it from contemplating such ideas.

[4] In the same prophet,

Then there will be a highway for the remnant of the people, which will be left from Asshur, as there was for Israel through the sea when they came up out of the land of Egypt.

In a similar way 'those left from Asshur' are people who have not been corrupted by means of perverted reasonings; for 'Asshur' means such reasonings, see 1186. In the same prophet,

On that day Jehovah Zebaoth will be a crown of adornment and a tiara of beauty for the remnant of His people. Isaiah 18:5.

In the same prophet,

Moreover, those that are left of the house of Judah and who escape will take root downwards and bear fruit upwards. For out of Jerusalem will go a remnant, and those who escape from Mount Zion. Isaiah 37:31-32.

In the same prophet,

He will eat butter and honey, everyone that is left in the midst of the land. Isaiah 7:22.

In Jeremiah,

I will gather the remnant of My flock from all lands where I have scattered them, and I will bring them back to their fold to give birth and to multiply. Jeremiah 23:3.

In the same prophet,

The people which were left from the sword found grace in the wilderness, when He went to give rest to him, to Israel. Jeremiah 31:2.

'The people which were left from the sword in the wilderness' were those who were called the young children - those who were led into the land of Canaan after all the rest had died. These 'young children' were those who were left', by whom were meant forms of good embodying innocence; and the leading of those people into Canaan represented incorporation into the Lord's kingdom.

[5] In Ezekiel,

I will cause some to be left, in that you will have some who will have escaped the sword among the nations when you are dispersed in the earth Then those of that escape will remember Me among the nations where they will be captives. Ezekiel 6:8-9.

The reason why the forms of good and the truths stored away by the Lord in a person interiorly were represented by the ones who were left or were a remnant among the nations where they were dispersed and made captives is that a person is constantly among evils and falsities, held in, captivity by them; for evils and falsities are what is meant by 'the nations'. When separated from the internal man the external man is altogether among them, and unless the Lord gathered forms of good and truth together, which are instilled into a person at various stages during the course of his life, he could not possibly be saved. Without remnants salvation comes to none.

[6] In Joel,

It will happen, that everyone who calls on the name of Jehovah will escape. For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be an escape, as Jehovah has said, and among those that are left whom Jehovah is calling. Joel 2:32.

In Micah,

The remnant of Jacob will be among the nations, in the midst of many peoples, like a lion among the beasts of the forest. Micah 5:8.

In Zephaniah,

The remnant of Israel will not do iniquity or speak any lie; nor will a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth. They will feed and rest, with none making them afraid. Zephaniah 3:13.

These words describe the character of the remnant, a character which the people who were called Israel never possessed, as is well known. From this also it is evident that 'the remnant' has some other meaning, and this, it is plain, is forms of good and truth since these are what 'do not do iniquity, do not speak any lie, and no deceitful tongue is found in their mouth'.

[7] In Zechariah,

The streets of the city will be full of boys and girls playing in its streets. This will be a marvel in the eyes of the remnant of My people. Now I will not be as in former days to the remnant of this people. For this will be the seed of peace; the vine will give its fruit, and the land will give its increase, and the heavens will give their dew. I will make the remnant of this people the heirs of all those things. Zechariah 8:5-6, 11-12.

'The remnant' here is called 'the seed of peace' and they are ones in possession of truths derived from good, the fruitfulness of which truths is described by the statement that the vine will give its fruit, the land its increase, and the heavens their dew.

[8] The remnants that are meant in the spiritual sense become so sealed off through evil living and false convictions that they cease to be seen any longer. And they are destroyed when from affection truth has first been accepted and then from affection afterwards denied; for when this happens truth and falsity become mixed together, and this is called profanation. Such remnants are referred to in the Word in the following places: In Isaiah,

He will remove man (homo); and the wilderness will be multiplied in the midst of the land. Scarcely any longer will there be a tenth part in it; it will be however an uprooting. Isaiah 6:12-13.

'Ten' means remnants, see 576, 1906, 2284. In the same prophet,

I will kill your root with famine, and it will kill the ones of you who are left. Isaiah 14:30.

'This refers to the Philistines, meaning those who have a knowledge of cognitions but do not live in accordance with them, 1197, 1198, 3412, 3413. The ones who are left are called a 'root' because forms of good and truth which make man truly human spring from remnants as their root. Therefore 'He will remove man', as stated in the quotation from Isaiah immediately above, means a destroying of remnants.

[9] In Jeremiah,

The young men will die by the sword; their sons and their daughters will die by famine, and they will not have any remnant. Jeremiah 11:22-23.

This has to do with the men of Anathoth. In the same prophet,

I will take the remnant of Judah, who have set their faces to go into the land of Egypt, to sojourn there, so that all are consumed; and none will escape, nor will any of the remnant of Judah be left, who have gone to dwell in the land of Egypt. Jeremiah 44:12, 14, 28.

The reason why people from Judah could not sojourn in Egypt or reside there, and why they were so strictly forbidden to do so, was that the tribe of Judah represented the Lord's celestial Church, and celestial people have no desire at all to know facts meant by 'Egypt'. For everything they know grows out of celestial good present with them and that good would perish if they were to resort to factual knowledge. Indeed since celestial good is present with members of the Lord's celestial kingdom, and celestial truth is charity whereas spiritual truth is faith, they refuse even to speak of faith, for fear that they may come down from good and look back, see, 202, 337, 2715, 3246, 4448. These matters are also what is meant by the prohibition,

He who is on the housetop must not go down to take anything out of his house, and he who is in the field must not turn back to take his clothes. Matthew 24:17, 18.

See just above in 5895. Those same matters are likewise meant by the words in Luke 17:32, 'Remember Lot's wife' - she looked back and became a pillar of salt. About looking and turning back, see 2454, 3652.

[10] The utter destruction of nations with not a single person left represented the condition among them when iniquity was so complete that no goodness or truth at all, nor thus any remnant, was surviving, as in Moses,

They struck down Og the king of Bashan, and all his sons, and all his people, until they did not leave him any remainder. Numbers 21:35; Deuteronomy 3:3.

[11] In the same author,

They took all Sihon's cities, and utterly destroyed every inhabited city, and the women, and the young children; they did not leave any remainder. Deuteronomy 2:34.

And there are other places where one reads about the utter destruction of nations.

The situation with remnants - or forms of good and truth stored away by the Lord in a person interiorly - is this: Goodness and truth are implanted in a person when he seeks them with affection and so in freedom. When this happens angels from heaven draw nearer and link themselves to that person. Their link with him is what causes the forms of good coupled with truths to come to exist in the person interiorly. But when external interests occupy the person's attention, as when he is engaged in worldly and bodily pursuits, the angels depart; and once they have departed not a trace of those forms of good and truth is apparent. Nevertheless because such a link has been effected once, this person now has the capability of being linked to angels and so to the goodness and truth residing with them. But this linking does not take place any more often or fully than the Lord pleases, who controls the situation as is entirely best for that person's life.

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